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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                            January 13, 2006

Release M-4-06






            Mayor Mufi Hannemann today hailed the out-of-court agreement that will allow a consortium of government and public interest groups to purchase Waimea Valley on Oahu’s North Shore for $14 million.


            “This historic agreement will allow us to preserve one of the most pristine and treasured ahupua‘a on Oahu for future generations,” said Hannemann. “The community spoke with one voice about the need to preserve and protect Waimea, and we’re confident this agreement will allow us to do just that.”


            The settlement was mediated by Clyde Matsui and calls for landowner Christian Wolffer to convey to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs all 1,875 acres that make up Waimea. The City will obtain  a conservation and public access easement in perpetuity over the Waimea Valley lands.


            Participating in the purchase are:


·       The City and County of Honolulu, $5 million

·       U.S. Army (through the Trust for Public Land), $3.5 million

·       Office of Hawaiian Affairs, $2.9 million

·       State Department of Land and Natural Resources, $1.6 million

·       National Audubon Society, $1 million (advanced by OHA).  


             “We want to thank all of them for coming up with real financial commitments to ensure Waimea remains undeveloped,” said Hannemann. “I asked them to show me the money, and they did.


            “We’d like to thank Haunani Apoliona, chair of the OHA board of trustees, and OHA administrator Clyde Namuo, DLNR Chairman Peter Young as well as the National Audubon Society and the City Council,” said Hannemann.


            “In particular we’re grateful to Colonel Howard Killian, commander of the U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii, and Josh Stanbro  (represented today by Tim Johns), Hawaii project manager of the Trust for Public Land. When it appeared we were going to come up short of the funds necessary to acquire Waimea, I contacted both the Army and the Trust for Public Land to see if they would be willing to bring additional funds to bear, and they most certainly delivered. Both organizations partnered with us in the Pupukea-Paumalu acquisition that we announced just last week. I want to make it very clear that we are indeed grateful to them, especially to the Army. In addition to protecting our freedom and providing jobs for our economy, the Army has taken an active role in protecting and preserving the ‘aina,” the mayor said.


            “In addition, we are grateful to Mr. Matsui for mediating this settlement and Mr. Wolffer and his attorney, Bill McCorriston, for their willingness to negotiate,” Hannemann said. “Most of all we thank those members of the public who spoke up.”


            Wolffer acquired the valley, including Waimea Falls Park, in 1996. In 2000, he offered it for sale at $25 million, which he later lowered to $19 million. Wolffer filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001. The City moved to condemn the valley and took possession of it in 2002. At the same time, the City deposited $5.1 million in court as condemnation proceedings began.


            Saying the land was worth far more, Wolffer filed pleadings to contest the city’s condemnation. Last year, a tentative settlement was reached that would have allowed the City to acquire the lower 300 acres of the valley, including Waimea Falls Park for the $5.1 million it had deposited with the court for the lawsuit,  while Wolffer would have kept the remaining 1,575 acres, where he sought to  developed as many as eight private homes.


            In the face of vocal public sentiment to preserve the valley, the City Council rejected that tentative settlement last month.


            Mayor Hannemann began negotiations with all parties involved to reach today’s settlement. Court proceedings on Wolffer’s lawsuit were scheduled to begin on February 13.


            The City will not pay a single penny more than the $5.1 million it originally set aside in 2002  to obtain the valley from Wolffer, said the mayor.









                  Bill Brennan, 527-6928

                  Mark Matsunaga, 527-5784


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

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