Maui Managing Director Responds to Vote for Formal Investigation
By Wendy Osher
Maui Managing Director Keith Regan issued a statement this afternoon in an effort to clarify the administration’s role in the demolition of the Old Wailuku Post Office.
“We had hoped that after demolition of the Post Office ended that we would be able to proceed with the design, planning and construction of a new building. As of right now this delay puts us behind schedule and we fully expect to have to renegotiate our rental agreements in two years,” said Regan.
The comments come following a vote today in favor of recommending a formal investigation into the potential misuse of county funds appropriated for the project.
The controversy stems from claims that the administration’s conceptual plan exceeded the scope of the council’s appropriation for the project, which was for was for a single building, not master planning for expansion of the county campus.
The building, described as a “money pit” by Mayor Alan Arakawa during an earlier interview, sat vacant for several administrations, plagued with asbestos, black mold, and an unfinished lease. In the interview, Arakawa said he had hopes that construction of a new building would help to address the need for employee parking in Wailuku town, and millions of dollars being paid in rent for county offices in non-county facilities.
In his testimony today, Regan offered comments on behalf of the mayor, who is out of town this week, attending the National Conference of Mayors.
He started his testimony by apologizing for any misunderstanding that may have occurred between the council and the administration on the matter.
In a subsequent statement, Regan said, “We were in fact prepared to answer any questions today and even submitted more than 200 pages of supporting public documents, which illustrate the timeline of communication with council members in regards to the old Wailuku Post Office project. This timeline shows when we met with the council about the project, what was discussed and any subsequent communication with the council either as a whole, or individually.”
Regan continued saying, “We had hoped that the council would go through these documents before making their decision; however we also believe that the sooner this inquiry begins the better.”
In his statement, Regan noted that the county lease agreements with One Main Plaza, Wells Street Professional Center and the David K Trask Jr. Building are set to expire in 2015.
“If we do not have somewhere to move our departments to by then, we will be subject to considerably higher rental fees,” he said, noting that the county is already paying more than $150,000 a month in rent for the departments that were scheduled to move in to the new building.
“To the public we ask that they remain patient as we go through this process. We will work diligently to get this project back on track as soon as possible to ensure that our taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely,” he said.
The recommendation for a formal investigation was approved in a 6 to 3 vote.
Those who voted in support of the item said it would provide the best vehicle to explain to the public what occurred.
Both supporters and opponents alike expressed a desire to move expeditiously to avoid additional time and expense.