Monday, October 19, 2015

Land Dispute Between State Hospital, WCC Remains On Kaneohe Neighborhood Board Radar

The Kaneohe Neighborhood Board will seek more information from the state Department of Health about a proposal to expand the Hawaii State Hospital on land sought by Windward Community College.

The Neighborhood Board voted on October 15 to ask the Health Department to provide a status update on the project. (To review the meeting minutes, click on this link.)

The land dispute involves two of the Kaneohe area’s largest employers. Neighborhood Board members Bill Sager and John Flanigan filed a report with the Board about the issue in September.

During the Board meeting, Windward CC Chancellor Doug Dykstra told the Board that the hospital did not have permits to demolish a building and build on land covered by the state’s historic preservation rules. He attributed the information to the state Historic Preservation Division. The Health Department has said that it does have the permits.

The State Hospital wants to use the disputed land to build a 250-bed long-term-care facility. That would happen after demolition of the historic Bishop Building, which once served patients but now is abandoned and in disrepair. The project is part of a larger effort to expand capacity, reduce chronic overcrowding and provide service for those who are committed to state care because of severe mental illness.

The college says the site for the new facility is part of a parcel, called the Great Lawn, which WCC views as the logical area for its growth. The college has offered 5.5 acres it owns in exchange for the 5 acres targeted for the new hospital facility. The exchange parcel is next to Windward Oahu Mental Health.

The Health Department has said that shifting the long-term care project to a new parcel would set construction back several years and further delay care for a vulnerable population.

Chancellor Dykstra told the Neighborhood Board that if the land exchange was approved, the college would rehabilitate and reopen the Bishop Building to house the Hakipu’u Learning Center, a charter school that works closely with WCC. He said the College also would build a facility on the site for business and information technology programs, while preserving the historic character of the Great Lawn.

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Windward Community College map: The Bishop Building is in gray in the kidney-shaped parcel on the far left. The Great Lawn is below the Bishop Building and extends to the area between Hale No'eau and Hale Na'auao. The land proposed for exchange is right of Hale A'o and below Hale Uluwehi, at lower right.

1 comment:

Bill Sager said...

Your Hawaii State Hospital Public Information Group presented the Report on the Hawaii State Hospital Master Plan at our September meeting. The Board is obligated to discuss the Report at its October meeting.

The HSH Master Plan addresses the need for the State Hospital to provide secure facilities to house patients convicted of violent crimes, to provide hospital facilities for their non-violent patients and to provide long term care for patients who are elderly and may have limited mobility. There is no question as to the need to provide this care for a growing patient population. All the HSH patients are assigned to the Hospital by the Courts which has resulted in severe overcrowding.

The only aspect of the Master Plan that is in contention is where the long term care facility is constructed. The HSH Master Plan locates the long term care on a five-acre parcel which is currently made up of the historic Bishop Building and a portion of the historic Great Lawn. The Windward Community College wants to maintain the current character of the Great Lawn and is proposing a land exchange which would preserve the Great Lawn and the Bishop Building Building and enable the Long-Term Care Facility to be built at the entrance to the Windward Community College Campus.

With that introduction, I recommend the HSH Master Plan be open for discussion.

Chancellor Dykstra is here and would like to brief us on recent developments not include in the Permitted Interaction Group report.

The following statement is given as a member of the KNB and not as a member of the HSH PIG.

I think the Great Lawn and its associated view plain is an important feature of Windward Community College Campus. Construction of the Long Term Care Facility in the proposed location will forever change the character of the WCC Campus and will significantly diminish the architectural, historic and esthetic significance of the Great Lawn. Therefore, I support the land exchange and construction of the long term care facility at the entrance to the WCC Campus.

The HSH takes the position that planning is to far along to make any changes. However, the purpose of planning is to make the best decisions. It is never to late to change a bad plan. The planning process never involved our community and the possability of a land exchange was never seriously considered by the HSH or DOH. The plan was developed with no consideration of the impact of the plan on the WCC.

The planning process is not as advanced as the HSH would like us to believe. We have been told that the needed historical documentation of the Bishop Building has been completed and demolition has been approved. The historical documentation may have been completed but no application has been made to the Hawaii State Historic Preservation Division. A EIA will be required at which time a full evaluation of alternatives must be evaluated. The land exchange must be one of the alternatives evaluated. If at that time, the community voices support for the Great Lawn the construction of the long term care facility can be significantly delayed.

If the State Historic Preservation Division decides the Great Lawn is no longer of historic significance then WCC should be permited to expand in the area between the Hale Kuhina Building and Hale Akoakoa. Such expansion would preserve the remnant of the Great Lawn as a park available for the enjoyment of students and for related student activities while allowing construction consistent with the newly permited construction by the Hawaii State Hospital.