Ige releases $55M in CIP funds for Big Island projects

By STEPHANIE SALMONS

Hawaii Tribune-Herald

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The state has released more than $55 million in capital improvement project funds for a variety of Big Island projects, including $15 million to Volcano School of Arts and Sciences for the construction of a new campus.

Currently, the charter school has two campuses, one on Old Volcano Road and one on Haunani Road, both in Volcano.

According to information on the school’s website, VSAS will build a new campus on the 3.35-acre Keakealani site on Haunani Road, where the middle school currently is located.

Principal Kalima Kinney said the the property is a state Department of Education site, which is how the charter school was eligible for the CIP funding.

Plans call for a 16-classroom building, labs, gardens, “breakout spaces,” a multi-purpose center, commercial kitchen and administrative building.

“Not only is this development project really needed to serve our communities, but we have a growing enrollment,” Kinney said.

The project originally aimed to unite the school onto one campus, but VSAS has outgrown those plans and a second site will still be needed.

According to Kinney, the new campus initially will serve elementary and middle school students, but as the school grows it will ultimately serve elementary only.

Kinney said there have been some delays with the permitting process and supply-chain issues, but the grubbing and grading is almost finished, as well as the installation of a temporary classroom building to assist with the transition during construction.

“As soon as those are done, the first building, which is a single story, will be started,” she said. “We expect that to be done sometime next year.”

When the funds were first allocated, “it felt like a dream,” Kinney said. “Now it’s a dream come true. We’re just very grateful to everybody, especially Gov. (David) Ige, Rep. (Richard) Onishi and (former) Sen. (Russell) Ruderman, for everyone who helped make this possible for our haumana.”

Ige on Wednesday announced the release of more than $601.9 million for capital improvement projects statewide.

“We are building on the efforts of previous years to enhance and rejuvenate a wide range of public infrastructure that is necessary for the well-being and safety of Hawaii’s residents,” Ige said in a statement. “As we continue to confront the challenges of COVID-19, we want to ensure that Hawaii has the resources to fill critical needs, as well as support opportunities and conservation efforts.”

Other funding includes:

• $6.3 million for track and field improvements at Konawaena High School;

• Three allocations of $6 million, $280,000 and $120,000 for a new community center, two new parking lots and the relocation of the lower baseball field at Waiakea Uka Park;

• $5,799,420 toward construction of a new medium security housing unit at Hawaii Community Correctional Center. Total cost of the project is nearly $20.8 million;

• $5 million for the design and construction of a girls’ athletic locker room at Waiakea High School;

• $3.8 million to the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. to initiate the second phase of a bathroom renovation project at Kona Community Hospital;

• $3.25 million for construction of a perimeter fence at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole, a $3.51 million project;

• $2.1 million to finance land, design and construction for traffic improvements at various locations;

• $1 million to HHSC to the upgrade the reheat system at Kona Community Hospital;

• $1 million for the replacement of an ungulate extension fence on Maunakea;

• $835,000 to HHSC to upgrade the HVAC system in the sterile storage area at Kona Community Hospital;

• $800,000 to HHSC for additional construction funds to renovate and upgrade the lobby of Hilo Medical Center;

• $800,000 for the design of terminal fire sprinklers at Hilo International Airport;

• $650,000 toward the construction of a south ramp taxiway and ramp improvements at Kona International Airport, a $19.13 million project.

• $500,000 for the replacement of deteriorated wooden fenders at Wailoa Small Boat Harbor.

• $450,000 to design improvements at Honokaa High and Intermediate;

• $400,000 for the construction of a new fence on the cone at Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve to protect native plants;

• $350,000 toward efforts to decommission the Hawi No. 5 reservoir;

• $300,000 to design improvements at Honokaa Elementary;

• $200,000 for the removal of hazardous structures at Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve; and

• $100,000 to the Big Island Substance Abuse Council for the construction of a behavioral health campus in Keaau. Total project cost is $150,000.

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The allocations total $55,034,420.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.