Bills would allow state to make money from private developers
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Queen Liliuokalani School in Kaimuki ceased to be a school this past year, when the Board of Education decided to close it. Education officials said the campus and its buildings would be used for a teacher resource center and storage. But it's not generating any revenue for the state. A measure in the legislature would allow that to happen through public-private partnerships.
Under the bill, the state could identify what lawmakers call "underutilized assets. The former Liliuokalani School campus would be one example.
"Forget the teacher resource center and storage, we can put that someplace else," said Sen. Glenn Wakai (D-Kalihi, Salt Lake, Aliamanu, Pearl Harbor, Aiea). "That is prime real estate for the betterment of that entire area, and perhaps most importantly, bringing revenue to the state because right now, the site is doing nothing to bring in revenue."
According to Wakai, the DOE could enter into a partnership with private developers, who could plan other uses. The developers would pay the state, which would still own the land, with the money going into a special fund for the department.
"So it allows us to create more jobs, bring in more revenue instead of increasing our taxes, and allow the Department of Education to have some flexibility with revenue that it can create from underutilized assets and public-private partnerships," said Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz (D-Kunia, Wahiawa, Haleiwa, Sunset Beach).
Another measure would allow other uses for what Wakai and Dela Cruz say is another underutilized asset -- the public land around Aloha Stadium. The parking lot is currently used for the 50th State Fair and the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet. The lawmakers said there are other revenue-generating possibilities.
"Everything from putting a hotel there. A business center there. A racetrack there. Entertainment. Restaurants. I mean, it could be so much more than jut 104 acres of asphalt," said Wakai.
Even if the bills become law, don't expect to see any of that right away at Aloha Stadium or the Liliuokalani campus. Uses would still be determined with the state Public Land Development Corporation after a lot of public input.
The bill regarding Aloha Stadium is already on the governor's desk awaiting his signature. The measure regarding the DOE goes up for a final vote in the legislature on Tuesday.
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