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West Maui groups launch fundraising campaign to build Olowalu fire substation

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Modular building rendering. PC: L&H Industrial via WMTA and WMIF.

Two West Maui groups have joined forces to launch a fundraising campaign in an effort to build a new fire substation in Olowalu, with plans to gift it to the County of Maui.

The nonprofit charitable organization, West Maui Improvement Foundation and the West Maui Taxpayers Association are raising funds to develop the substation, in the hopes of protecting life and property from “ongoing notorious fires” that have occurred at or near the location over the past 15 years.

The WMIF reports that previous fires “have destroyed homes and endangered lives,” isolating the West Maui community from life-saving access to the Emergency Room at the Maui Memorial Medical Center in Wailuku.

Olowalu brush fire 8.31.18. PC: Lindsay Kent.

“The economic consequences of road closures have been measured in dollars at over $1 million per hour and after four hours, it’s exponentially magnified by over 400% due to cancelled flights, hotel rooms, rental cars, and the myriad of trickle-down associated impacts,” according to the WMIF.  The Foundation reflected on the potential impacts saying, “Isolation is potentially deadly. If one life is lost, how much is that worth?”

Multiple fires were sparked in August of 2018 when high winds from Hurricane Lane swept through the island, fanning wildfires in West Maui that charred 2300 acres.

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West Maui residents are all too familiar with other incidents that have occurred over the years, forcing the closure of the Honooapiʻilani Highway for hours, and cutting off the main artery between West and Central Maui.

July 8, 2016, Olowalu brushfire. MFD file photo.
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The organization reports that a similar effort to build and gift a station for the benefit of the community, made the Nāpili Fire Station a reality more than 30 years ago. According to County records, the Nāpili station was built in 1991, and currently has a total assessed value of $945,800, including $218,000 for the land and $727,800 for the building.

Nāpili Fire Station. PC: County of Maui

According to WMIF, the Olowalu station would be developed at a site selected by the Fire Chief, at an elevated location, approximately 200 yards up the road at the improved intersection of the Honoapiʻilani Highway near mile 14.5.

Modular building rendering. PC: via WMTA and WMIF.

The organizations report that they are progressing toward a goal of getting the station built in less than a year through a land donation of two acres in Olowalu and a new cost saving modular station. A rendering shows a single bay, two bedroom station with an apparatus bay.

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The WMIF reports that ongoing advocacy by the foundation and the West Maui Taxpayers Association for an Olowalu Fire Station via a public-private partnership, led to a meeting last week that included participation from the WMIF, landowner Olowalu Homes Inc., the mayor, planning director and deputy, budget official, and deputy fire chief.

“There was a consensus at the meeting to begin necessary collaboration whereby the WMIF will raise all the necessary funds to develop a fire station,” the organization reports. 

According to the organization, the goal is to have the proposed fire substation to be fully paid for with private funds while the County will initiate land use approvals. The end result would be County ownership with improvement gifted to it from WMIF. “That’s what we did at Nāpili. We have a proven track record,” the organization reports.

Next steps include:

  1. Conducting a preliminary metes and bounds survey
  2. Obtaining a preliminary engineering report
  3. Obtaining a preliminary drainage report
  4. Completing an archaeological report

The WMIF reports that a Memorandum Of Understanding between the organization and Olowalu Homes Inc. for the land donation is a “work in progress.”

Through the hard work and cooperation from the Maui Fire Department, the County of Maui, Olowalu Homes Inc., the Maui Taxpayers Association, Mahanalua Nui HOA Fire committee, and numerous other individuals and associations, the WMIF reports that progress is being made in bringing the substation to reality.

As of today, $16,313 has been raised toward a $2 million fundraising goal. According to fundraising solicitations, the organizations are also working with the mayor and the County of Maui, and are looking into federal and state grants and other private corporation donations.

“Time is of the essence, and we are launching our fundraising to achieve our mutual goals for improving our health and safety for our West Maui Community,” according to a press release announcing the plan. “This is a win-win for everyone.” 

For updates and to make a donation, visit: https://linktr.ee/wmif

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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