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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                               November 6, 2006






            The City has suspended work on the Niu Valley Force Main Replacement Project because of the landowner’s refusal to grant access to the Niu Valley Shopping Center.

             Work began in mid July 2006 on a replacement for the existing Niu Valley force main, a badly corroded 16-inch cast iron pipe that was installed in 1961. That underground main, which carries wastewater from the Niu Valley Wastewater Pump Station toward Honolulu, ruptured three times in February 2005, including a Valentine’s Day break that caused an epic traffic jam.

            The City embarked on April 25, 2005 on an emergency replacement of 3,300 feet of the pipe by installing an above-ground, temporary bypass plastic pipe on the Kalanianaole Highway median.  The bypass line was completed and put into operation in August 2005.

            Installation of the permanent underground replacement requires temporary use of a small portion of the parking lot of the Niu Valley Shopping Center, located adjacent to the pump station, for the drilling equipment. The City is asking to use 4,600 square feet of the shopping center property, which totals 204,776 square feet.

            The City initially obtained agreement to use part of the shopping center parking lot from Sofos Realty, which manages the shopping center for the owner, King’s Cathedral. In August, the church overturned that agreement.

            Since then, the City has been working with the church and their attorneys on a very restrictive agreement to use only 4,600 square feet, which includes the landscaped area fronting the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant and their drive through lane which circles the back side of the restaurant. The KFC owner, Kazi Foods agreed to the City’s use of the leased property.  However, King’s Cathedral has refused to allow it.

            “We have no progress to show for over two months of negotiations between the City’s Corporation Counsel and attorneys for King’s Cathedral,” said Eugene Lee, director of the Department of Design and Construction. “King’s Cathedral has presented us unreasonable demands for the temporary use of its property in order to complete a project that will benefit the entire East Honolulu community.
            “Meanwhile, costs to City taxpayers are mounting with each day’s delay and there is too little time left to complete drilling operations and install the new permanent main before the busy holiday season. To avoid racking up more expenses with no end in sight, we have no choice but to suspend this project,” said Lee.

             The City is examining alternatives to using the shopping center property, including condemnation of access rights or using part of the highway. The latter would block at least two lanes of the highway for months, create safety problems and increase expenses.

            Meanwhile, the City is forced to rely on the plastic, temporary main on the highway median, where it remains vulnerable to crash damage, earthquakes and other external forces.




            Eugene Lee, Director of Design and Construction, 523-4564

            Craig Nishimura, Deputy Director of Design and Construction, 523-4716

            Eldon Franklin, Chief of DDC Wastewater Division, 527-5386


Monday, November 06, 2006

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