County Invites the Public to Help Revitalize Pohoiki

During Tuesday’s third quarterly Revitalize Puna event, the County of Hawai‘i updated the community on Kīlauea eruption recovery efforts and unveiled an online engagement tool to help guide the future of Isaac Kepo‘okalani Hale Beach Park in Pohoiki.

About 100 people participated in the online event, which was a collaboration between the County’s Disaster Recovery Division and Council District 4.

In total, $3 million in Federal and State recovery funds are identified for Isaac Kepo‘okalani Hale Beach Park. By visiting https://revitalizepohoiki.consider.it, by January 31, 2022, residents can give their feedback and share their vision for the park which partially inundated by lava during the 2018 eruption.

Residents also are invited to participate in one of the following in-person Isaac Kepo‘okalani Hale Beach Park engagements:

• Pāhoa Skate Park – Jan. 23, 7 a.m.-1 p.m.

• Isaac K. Hale Beach Park – Jan. 27, 9 a.m.-noon.

• Hilo Coffee Mill – Feb. 5, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

• Maku‘u Farmers Market – Feb. 13, 7 a.m.-1 p.m.

A virtual planning session will be held via Zoom on Thursday, Feb 10 from 3p-5 pm.

The public can find more information on in-person engagements as well as the virtual planning session at https://recovery.hawaiicounty.gov.

Plans will be submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for funding assistance by May.

Participants were also asked to share their Puna “Heart & Soul Statements,” which will be used to inform a strategic placemaking plan, Resilience Capacity Area priorities, and the next round of Puna Strong grants. Heart & Soul statements can be submitted online via https://padlet.com/aloha7/punaheartandsoul by Jan. 31.

Recovery Updates Updates were provided by Resilience Capacity Area (RCA) co-chairs and County and State representatives. Resilience Capacity Areas Each RCA addresses a resilience category – social, cultural, economic, built environment, natural environment, and youth – as part of a framework that encourages collaboration across resilience areas and teams. RCA co-chairs include both community and County representatives who assist Action Teams leading community-driven projects with technical guidance and support. Projects include an economic development survey, emergency preparedness plans, invasive species mitigation, a Downtown Pāhoa paint refresh, and planning for a Pāhoa Village Master Plan. For more information, visit https://recovery.hawaiicounty.gov/revitalize-puna/resilience-capacity-areas.

The County’s Department of Water Supply announced that eight projects will be prioritized to FEMA for funding assistance. That list includes a new project that would involve restoring a 4-inch waterline from Pohoiki to Kapoho, assuming it’s feasible to restore the waterline down Pohoiki Road. Additional projects have been identified should funding remain after the completion of the prioritized projects. Visit https://recovery.hawaiicounty.gov/infrastructure/water for more information.

The County’s Department of Public Works is considering three options for construction of the lower Pohoiki Road alternate route to increase safety. None of these options would affect the protected exceptional mango trees located in the existing County right-of-way. However, some trees currently on private property and not considered exceptional trees per the County Code may need to be removed. The next step is to work with FEMA to initiate an environmental assessment for the combined road and waterline projects along Pohoiki Road and Highway 137. The County is considering repurposing the existing alignment to accommodate biking and walking. Visit https://recovery.hawaiicounty.gov/infrastructure/roads for more information.

The County’s Department of Park and Recreation is receiving $4.9 million in Federal and State recovery assistance due to damage from the 2018 eruption. Funding is proposed for Isaac Kepo‘okalani Hale Beach Park ($3 million), equipment to ensure parks are safe and maintained ($1.76 million), and other Puna parks projects ($200,000). ation.

The State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) provided an update on efforts to restore the Pohoiki Boat Ramp, blocked by a new sand beach formed by the eruption. DLNR representatives noted that dredging of the beach to restore access could start in about two years, with construction completion estimated to occur in November 2024. The project is currently in the permitting and design phase, with an environmental assessment being the next step. Creation of a safe swim area at Pohoiki will be considered as part of that review.

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