Secrets of Waimea: The secret mediation surrounding the recent agreement by state, federal, and private agencies to pay $14 million for Waimea Valley are no longer secret. At the request of court-appointed mediator Clyde Matsui, First Circuit Judge Gary Chang ordered on January 13 that the transcripts of the January 12 mediation meeting be unsealed.
Matsui’s January 13 closing report to the court provides a summary of what when transpired during the previous day’s mediation. Following a December City Council meeting where the public testified overwhelmingly against a council proposal to settle a condemnation dispute with Attractions Hawai`i over Waimea Valley, representatives from the U.S. Army Garrison Hawai`i, the Trust of Public Land, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the National Audubon Society were invited to participate in the mediation process surrounding the 2001 condemnation lawsuit by the city.
The new parties, “[g]uided by the two appraisal reports that would become evidence at trial,” determined that $12 million was a fair sum to pay for the 1,800-acre ahupua`a located on O`ahu’s north shore, Matsui wrote. After Attractions Hawai`i and its principal Christian Wolffer “summarily rejected” the offer of $12 million, Matsui wrote, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann convinced the Army/TPL to contribute another $2 million. DLNR’s Young also offered an additional $100,000 to cover expenses relating to kuleana claims and other intervenors in the condemnation case.
Everything Must Go! With the Estate of James Campbell set to dissolve at the end of next year, the estate has been trying to liquidate its assets, sell much of its property. Last year, OHA and DLNR made headlines when they agreed to purchase Hawai`i’s Wao Kele O Puna parcel through the non-profit Trust for Public Land for $3.65 million. Last month, Campbell’s sale of 2,000 acres in Kahuku also made the news, with lessees concerned that they would be left homeless.
A document at the DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife suggests that Campbell Estate also intends to sell some 3,500 acres in Honouliuli, which are being managed by The Nature Conservancy Hawai`i, for $3.5 million. TNCH manages some 550 acres of its portion of its Honouliuli Preserve with funding assistance from the state through a Forest Stewardship Agreement, which the Board of Land and Natural Resources approved in November 2002.
The Honouliuli Preserve contains a remnant forest threatened by invasive species and TNCH had originally hoped to turn that forest into a showcase for native forest restoration by partnering with schools and other volunteer groups. How the sale will affect restoration activities in Honouliuli remains to be seen. Calls to TNCH’s O`ahu office and to DOFAW were not returned by press time.
As of last year, the state had provided $29,252, and TNCH had provided $99,452 for the restoration project.
Volume 16, Number 8 February 2006