It’s being called a historic conservation agreement.
On Thursday, Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced a deal that would preserve 665 acres of land on Oahu’s North Shore.
The state, city, and the Trust for Public Land are paying Turtle Bay Resort $48.5 million in a deal that would protect the land from future development.
Two days after the announcement was made, community members, along with state leaders, came out in full force.
“This triumph today is living proof that when people speak, the get heard,” Gov. Abercrombie said.
“We’re pleased. This is such a great thing to save so much of this beautiful land,” said Jessica dos Santos, Defend Oahu Coalition co-chairperson.
A color-coded map shows what the area will look like. It stretches from Kawela Bay to Kahuku Point, all on Turtle Bay property. The dark green areas are zoned for wet lands and dunes, the light green areas are open space, and the pink areas are coastlines. As for the yellow areas, they’re excluded. The deal still allows Turtle Bay to expand in that area, but their plans are now much smaller.
While many people are celebrating on the North Shore, there’s still more that needs to be done. The state legislature needs to come up with its share of the deal, a total of $40 million.
In that deal, the city will provide $5 million and the Trust for Public Land will provide $3.5 million.
Gov. Abercrombie is urging the legislature to step up and appropriate the funds.
“What’s your message to the legislators?” KHON2 asked.
“My message to the legislature is very, very simple. We made a promise we would try, in good faith, to bring that Turtle Bay settlement to a conclusion after years and years of failure and frustration. And we’ve come through. And so we’re asking the legislature to come through, too,” Gov. Abercrombie said.
“This isn’t a surprise. The governor put the $40 million marker in his budget, so it’s not as if it’s a shock that legislators hadn’t anticipated,” said Sen. Clayton Hee (D) Waialua, Haleiwa, Laie, Kaaawa, Ahuimanu.
With the end of the legislative session less than two weeks away, lawmakers must act fast.
“Let’s hope and work to see to it now that the remaining days of the legislature, their top priority is seeing to it that the settlement that we all achieved together is gonna be fulfilled. Thank you, North Shore,” Gov. Abercrombie said.
We also spoke to Sen. David Ige, who’s the chair of the Ways and Means Committee. He says they’re still waiting for the details of the agreement. Once they get it, he says they’ll have a better idea of how to move forward.
Related story: 665+ acres on North Shore to be protected from development