By Susan Halas
Maui Now has learned that planning for the proposed 4.5 story parking garage in the center of Wailuku town has been put on hold by the County of Maui and future meetings of the design team have been canceled.
On Feb. 14th, Wendy Kobashigawa, a Public Works Department civil engineer who is one of the coordinators for the project, wrote:
“As of today, please stop all work on the Wailuku Municipal Parking Structure Project. It was recently brought to our attention that there may be a change in the community’s vision for the Municipal Parking Lot. We are currently gathering more information to determine how this will impact the current design and the schedule to complete the design documents by the August 31, 2012 deadline.”
Yesterday, Small Town Planner Erin Wade, the who staffs the Maui Redevelopment Agency, the group that initiated the parking structure planning, said she had not seen the memo and could not comment on it.
She added the action did not come as a total surprise in light of recent comments by Mayor Alan Arakawa, who had just returned from an out-of-state design conference. Arakawa indicated the feedback he received from design experts was that putting a “monolithic structure in the heart of town” would not serve the community’s long term goals.
Wade said the funding for the parking structure planning effort came from a $1.2 million federal grant. The current municipal parking lot contains 210 stalls. The proposed structure would replace the existing lot with a multi-story building and adjacent parking with a total of 460 stalls, yielding a net gain of 250 new parking spaces at an estimated cost to build of $15 million.
Wade said the plans were at the 60% completion level so it would be safe to estimate that the expense of planning the structure to date would be 60% of $1.2 million or approximately $720,000.
She added that a March 28th meeting of the reWailuku planning effort is scheduled for the Iao Theater at 6 p.m. At that time, she said, the extensive comments received from the members of the community on future plans for Wailuku town would be reviewed.
She also said a number of proposals for financing the desired improvements would be on the agenda and that parking, in whatever form it might take, would “definitely be a component” of any subsequent plans for the town.