HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Just days before the planned start of construction for the Thirty Meter Telescope last month, Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim sent a letter to Governor David Ige asking for a 30-day delay.
Kim hoped to convene a meeting of groups and individuals from the Native Hawaiian community. He also wanted to provide more time for businesses and officials to prepare for any fallout.
Bu this request was denied.
“What I was hoping for in 30 days is to try to see if there’s any way we could get together and try to talk before that happens, so the 30-day extension would have led to more,” explained Mayor Kim.
After receiving the letter, Ige said he told Kim that it was too late for a timeout.
“At the time he gave me the letter, we had a good conversation and I told him why I believed we would not be able to call that timeout at that point, and I think he understood,” Gov. Ige said. “It was too close to the start of the project to really be able to say we’re going to stop the project at that point.”
Telescope opponents blocked the roadway, and after some initial arrests, law enforcement officers backed off.
More than a month ago, the governor handed over responsibilities for the operation to the mayor to try to peacefully reach common ground with TMT opponents and the broader community.
Ige said he has frequent conversations with Kim to discuss different options.
"We certainly have made significant progress. Mayor has had a couple of meetings. I've had meetings with many in our community who care about our community and care about the project," said Ige.
Both leaders expressed their continued support for the telescope, but Kim also said that past mismanagement of the mountain and other issues must be addressed.
"We all better recognize the wrongs done. To go forward, we have to do that, and there's no denying of the wrongs, there's no denying of the pain and the hurt," said Kim.
With costs for law enforcement and first responders at the protest site adding up, there is still no indication of how the conflict on Mauna Kea will end.
“The ones who will decide whether it’s continue to try or leave is not the state, but the authorities of the Thirty Meter Telescope,” said Kim.