A pavilion with a view: Kailapa Community expands, one project at a time

  • The Kailapa Community pavilion will be completed this summer. A new playground adjacent to the structure opened last fall. LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY
    The Kailapa Community pavilion will be completed this summer. A new playground adjacent to the structure opened last fall. LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY

KAWAIHAE — The scenic 180-degree view from the soon-to-be-finished pavilion at Kailapa Hawaiian Homestead resembles what a guest would see from the lanai of an oceanfront suite at one of the resorts along the Kohala Coast.

Built completely by Kailapa residents and volunteers, it is scheduled for completion this summer on the mauka side of Akoni Pule Highway in Kawaihae.

“This will be our gathering place, where we can spend time together,” said Diane “Maka’ala” Kanealii, Kailapa Community Association’s executive director for the past three years. “Before this, we’ve met for Association meetings at people’s houses in the neighborhood or on the street.”

Construction began in October and materials have been purchased as needed from HPM, Home Depot and Honsador Lumber.

“It’s been piecemeal. We’ve been going out to get what we need as we build,” she said.

Volunteers have included residents and those who live outside the community.

“On a given day, we’ve had anywhere between 3-15 people helping. Usually it is two days a week, or sometimes just on Saturdays,” Kanealii said.

KCA includes 140 homes built on the 191 lots within the homestead.

“When we all work together, there is nothing we as a community cannot accomplish. You would think it’s draining, but it’s more invigorating when things get done,” Kanealii said. “We’re successful in the respect that when it came time, our community stepped up. We have some really good people. Relatives and friends have pitched in too. So many of them are into some type of religion and giving back is so important to them. I’m so grateful for everyone.”

Adding dry wall and donated plants are among the final touches to be finished later this spring.

“We need electric helpers to help pull the wires in the building, and an auger to drill holes in the rock on the hill to put in the native trees,” she said.

Monetary donations are also needed.

“We are about $100,000 short on funds to finish the pavilion for lights and additional pavement,” Kanealii said. “ If anyone can donate it, we have the guys who will put it in.”

Adjacent to where the pavilion sits is a playground that was added last November. It’s open to all Kawaihae residents and surrounding communities in addition to KPA families.

“We’re not closing it off to anyone,” Kanealii said. “We live in a community. We all have to get along and share what we have.”

The Association is also seeking donations to add a sunshade over the playground that will protect keiki.

Started in the late 1980s, KPA’s mission has always been “to empower Native Hawaiians living in Kohala, specifically the Kailapa Community, supporting physical, mental, spiritual and cultural health of people and place.”

Around 750 people live in the community currently.

This past January, KCA members voted to change the name of the community.

“This place was named Kailapa by a person on the board at the time the Association was formed. It was the name of the first mailman here,” Kanealii said. “Recently, when people in the community became more active, they wanted the name to go back to the original, which was honokoa. This is a honokoa area — like the gulch — so for them it was important to give it back its historic name. During this transition, we will be using the name Honokoa dba Kailapa Community Association.”

Phase II of the project will focus on the ravine, and developing a community resource center on 12 acres that will also act as a disaster shelter for the public when needed, and will include classroom spaces, a tech center, offices and a certified kitchen open to the public. Planning began in January 2012.

“As we head to the finish line on the pavilion, we are looking forward to phase II. With the help and support from Pacific Growth Associates, our community has piqued the interest of some outside investors from a New Market Tax Credit program,” Kanealii said. “These investors support community projects that provide multiple services and benefits to their respective communities.”

During the 2016 Legislative session, KCA received a $1 million Grant-in-Aid to begin phase II of the community resource center. Those funds were designated to design and build the bridge to get across the ravine at the end of Kailapa Street to access the future resource center site.

But the GIA funding was never released. Assigned to DHHL to use the federal funds, they did not agree to fund any community projects, according to Kanealii.

As a result, KCA is now focusing on the 2017 GIA request for $1 million for the bridge, and an additional $1.75 million to do planning design and land prep for the resource center/disaster shelter for South Kohala. If they win this award, they also have a verbal commitment from the NMTC investor to match some of the GIA funds.

This week, KCA received a second call of interest from another group wanting to contribute additional funds if the GIA is awarded.

“This is a really big deal,” Kanealii said. “The Honokoa community has had multiple site visits by key legislative members as well as representatives from the governor’s office to see for themselves what is being done here and the opportunities it presents. I have traveled to Oahu multiple times to meet with our legislators, provide testimony and gain the needed support and understanding of what the full funding request would mean for Honokoa.”

If KCA gets funded, the phase II project will begin in April or May. If they do not, they will also lose the NMTC investment.

Info: Contact Diane Kanealii at 640-3195 or dkanealii02@gmail.com

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