With Kilauea no longer erupting, Mayor Harry Kim says he has turned some of his attention to another mountain — Maunakea.
Kim, who in November 2017 received a green light from Gov. David Ige to propose a new management structure for the mountain, said he is back to talking with a seven-member working group that will help him refine his vision for Maunakea, which he thinks can be a symbol of international cooperation, the pursuit of knowledge, and the Hawaiian people.
The mayor hopes to have a proposal done by the end of the year, but he has declined to identify the working group members until he gets their approval. He said he has yet to receive it.
Some Native Hawaiians consider Maunakea as a sacred piko or temple. While supportive of the Thirty Meter Telescope and use of the mountain for astronomy, he said it also should be recognized that the mountain is part of people’s soul.
Kim said he is involved in the issue because he thinks the mountain can set an example of cooperation in times of immense polarization.
“I think we are in a very special place in the world, and I just want this Maunakea issue to be, going forward, bringing us closer together instead of apart,” he said.
But such ideals could conflict with the county’s law enforcement role if Thirty Meter Telescope opponents again try to block construction vehicles trying to ascend Maunakea.
Kim said he has met with the Police Department and his corporation counsel about what his legal responsibilities are if construction vehicles are blocked. The state Supreme Court approved the Conservation District Use Permit for the $1.4 billion TMT project last week.
The Maunakea Science Reserve is overseen by the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Office of Maunakea Management.
Email Tom Callis at email@example.com.