Local Connection: Ellison's Island

Local Connection: Ellison's Island

By: Rick Blangiardi

Will billionaire Larry Ellison be good for Lanai or are his plans for development going to change the fragile nature of the pineapple island forever?

That is what we set to find out when reporter Keoki Kerr spent several days preparing special reports this month for our series on "Ellison's island...."

After all, Lanai has only about 3,000 people, one school and no traffic lights. It is understandable that those who live there would be concerned about what is to come.

What we found are residents who are cautiously optimistic about what Ellison has been doing, such as creating construction jobs, upgrading hotels and refurbishing community facilities....

The best move Ellison made was hiring Kurt Matsumoto, the chief operating officer of Lanai resorts, who has been listening to local residents and getting their feedback about Lanai's future.

One community leader said Matsumoto has done more to establish relationships in a few months than previous owner Castle and Cooke had done in 22 years of ownership.

There is hope that a delicate balance of growth and preservation will keep Lanai pristine while generating more revenue for the island.

Another major hotel planned for the windward side is causing some concern but everyone is aware that the reason that people visit Lanai is because it is so different from the other islands.

Let's not lose the magic of one of greatest natural treasures.

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