TMT opponents fear county resources will be pitted against protestors as tensions brew

Emotions are running high ahead of the start of construction of the TMT

HILO, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Hawaii County Council committee meeting on the county's role in the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope project turned into a marathon session on Monday.

Council member Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder requested a report from Mayor Harry Kim’s administration about the county’s activities on Mauna Kea.

During his presentation, the mayor shared his vision for the mountain.

“This is what I believe Mauna Kea can be for the world: Mauna Kea to be a symbol of nations working together for the pursuit of peace and harmony, a beacon of hope and discovery for the world,” he said.

Kanealii-Kleinfelder asked about the county’s jurisdiction on the mountain and whether roads leading to Mauna Kea could be closed.

“As the primary law enforcement agency for Hawaii County, we have jurisdiction over federal, state and county roads, lands, and the authority to take enforcement action,” explained Chief Paul Ferreira of the Hawaii Police Department.

Ferreira said the county’s costs will depend on what unfolds this summer.

He added that some reimbursement from the state is likely.

Officers may have to switch to 12 hour shifts, similar to what happened during the Kilauea eruption.

“Our role in this is, again, to ensure public safety and community safety. We’re not going to be securing the mountain. We’re not going to be providing security at the job site,” said Ferreira.

The chief also said that officers won’t be given a choice about working the shifts since they took an oath to enforce the laws.

“These actions of putting our county police upfront - this is hewa. That’s totally wrong and destructive for our communities, which will be torn apart,” said TMT opponent Diane Kanealii.

TMT officials have not revealed exactly when construction will begin this summer.

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