House Finance Committee visits Lahaina wildfire disaster zone to identify priorities
Members of the House Finance Committee, led by Chair Kyle T. Yamashita (D-12, Upcountry Maui), visited various sites in the Lahaina wildfire disaster zone on Thursday to receive an update on recovery efforts from Federal and County officials, and identify key priorities for the upcoming legislative session.
King Kamehameha III Elementary School
The Maui visit included an onsite inspection at King Kamehameha III Elementary School to assess the damage and gain insight into the ongoing recovery efforts. Representatives received an update explaining the involvement of cultural advisors working alongside archaeologists and forensics experts to identify and preserve culturally significant aspects of this historical property.
During the visit to Lahaina Harbor, the US Coast Guard provided a briefing on the status of rebuilding efforts, including search and rescue operations and the overall response to the harbor’s recovery.
This visit allowed House Representatives to receive a status update on the progress made in the area, from search and rescue operations to FEMA assignments, debris removal, and ongoing assessments of the harbor’s conditions.
Notably, efforts are underway to work with vessel owners for access, maintenance, and environmental and historical preservation, including the preservation of significant cultural artifacts. The timeline for these operations is ongoing.
Front Street Apartments
House Representatives visited the site of Front Street Apartments, a Hawaiʻi Housing Finance & Development Corporation (HHFDC) 142-unit project built in 2001.
“As one of the few affordable housing complexes on the island, the loss of Front Street Apartments is deeply felt by residents and the community,” members said.
Throughout the 2024 legislative session, there will be anticipated discussions regarding the need for affordable housing for residents, especially in the wake of the Lahaina wildfires.
Conversations at Māla Wharf focused on potential legislation for the upcoming session, with an emphasis on addressing commercial matters while taking into account the concerns of local residents.
The Department of Boating and Ocean Recreation provided an update on the funds received in previous years from the Legislature and the status of projects, which include upgrading bathroom facilities, improving lighting, and enhancing the facility’s striping.
Additionally, officials indicated that a portion of the ramp is planned for renovation.
West Maui Temporary School
An update on the West Maui Temporary School was provided during a briefing by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Plans are underway for the West Maui Temporary School, a transitional campus to be located at Pulelehua near Kapalua Airport.
This school will support students who previously attended King Kamehameha III Elementary and are currently receiving their education in a hybrid, temporary environment at Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena Elementary School.
The project is currently in the bid phase, and officials shared that they will be reviewing the submission of proposals, which are due Thursday, Oct. 26.
In the briefing, the school’s design was outlined, with an initial capacity of 600 students, expandable to 700. The future campus will include classrooms for all grades, an administrative building, nurse’s office, media center, community space, cafeteria, and an outdoor community area.