Submitted by whtadmin on March 18, 2011 – 10:01pm
BY CHELSEA JENSEN | WEST HAWAII TODAY
University of Hawaii, state and county officials Friday afternoon
celebrated the groundbreaking for initial roadway infrastructure for the long-awaited Hawaii Community College at Palamanui campus.
“This is a very important milestone for the University of Hawaii and particularly for the Palamanui campus because today we mark the construction of the access road,” said University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood. “This enlightened approach, this partnership with the Palamanui Partners, allows us to move forward even though these are incredibly challenging economic times to be able to provide an educational opportunity in the most underserved part of the State of Hawaii.”
With the road, which will connect the campus to Kaiminani Drive,
now under way, Greenwood said the first phase of the 78-acre campus could start as early as this September, if all required permits be obtained.
“Hopefully, between 18 and 24 months from now we’ll be untying the maile leaves and students will have the opportunity to move out of the (current) storefront
campus (in Kealakekua),” said Greenwood, who garnered much applause from attendees.
About 150 people, including University of Hawaii officials, Hawaii County Council members, state legislators and representatives of various elected officials, took part in the blessing held at the Palamanui site, located just over a mile north of the Kona International Airport.
The university will build the 1.5-mile, $4.7 million road, while developer Palamanui Partners will spend the same amount toward building the first of three phases of the college and contribute another $5 million toward the campus, said Palamanui Global Holdings Director of Governmental Affairs Roger Harris referring to a memorandum of understand signed by the university and the developer in November 2010.
“By the time the first phase is built, we’ll have put more than $9 million toward the campus,” Harris said. The road, which is being constructed by Keauhou Kona Construction Co., is expected to be complete by November, he added.
If the road is finished and campus construction is under way this fall, the approximately $9 million first phase should be complete for students to use in Spring 2012, said University of Hawaii Vice President for Community Colleges John Morton, who noted funding has yet to be secured for subsequent phases.
The first phase will provide some 23,000 square feet of classroom and office space to serve an estimated 700 students, said Noreen Yamane, Hawaii Community College interim chancellor. Future phases would allow the campus to serve 1,400 students, she added.
Currently, some 450 students attend the University of Hawaii Center West Hawaii in Kealakekua that provides just 12,500-square-feet of classroom and office space, according to the university.
“The first phase will give students almost twice the space that they have right now,” Greenwood said. “The second and third phases are a high priority, but how fast that happens depends on interest in the campus, state finances and the ability to attract donors.”