Residents Pack Governor's Talk Story Session on Turtle Bay

Margaret Primacio
Margaret Primacio
Mark Cunningham
Mark Cunningham
John Dowd
John Dowd

By Mari-Ela David

KAHUKU (KHNL) -- "Keep the country, country."  It's a saying that's gained more momentum on Oahu's North Shore, particularly around Turtle Bay.

Leading the way is Governor Linda Lingle (R-Hawaii). On Tuesday evening, she hosted a talk story session.

The Governor has taken on a personal mission to buy and preserve Turtle Bay. She talked about it in her State of the State Address. Now, she's taking action. She met with North Shore's community to get input.

Jobs versus open space; the tug-of-war over Turtle Bay has North Shore residents alarmed.

"We're a rural community and this kind of development would just kill the golden goose," said Margaret Primacio with Defend Oahu Coalition.

To protect the area from a new wave of development, Governor Lingle proposes to buy 850 acres of Turtle Bay property, including five miles of coastline along North Shore.

"This is a place where we didn't just talk about sustainability, we didn't just talk about smart growth, we actually did something about it," she said.

The Governor's proposal comes on the heels of a controversial plan to expand the Turtle Bay hotel. Residents worry the expansion will threaten and change the North Shore's country feel.

"The fear would be just a very crowded and congested highway. I mean, you were in traffic taking a long time getting to Kahuku this afternoon, can you imagine if there was a mini Waikiki out here?" asked Mark Cunningham with Defend Oahu Coalition.

During the talk story session, people packed Kahuku High School's cafeteria. Many came to show the Governor their support. Others voiced their fears, including Turtle Bay Resort employees.

"It's kind of scary, that the government is thinking of using eminent domain to condemn or take over a private business," said John Dowd, a resort employee.

Whether North Shore's country remains country is now up to lawmakers.

The Senate passed the Governor's bill Tuesday. It now goes to the house for a vote.

Right now, Turtle Bay Resort has one hotel. Expansion plans call for five additional hotels plus five separate condo sites.