Honolulu, Hawaii –The Wai‘anae Coast will finally see some substantial funding, as lawmakers approved the state budget yesterday. More than $20 million will go toward the improvement of the area’s infrastructure and over a million dollars will funnel into non-profit organizations and programs.
“The community of Wai‘anae has waited too long for these needed improvements to our coastline, and I’m proud to say those improvements are finally funded in the budget passed Monday,” said Rep. Cedric Gates. “In a joint effort with Sen. Maile Shimabukuro, a lot was done for the Wai‘anae Coast."
Like every community, certain organizations are the heartbeats of its residents. The Wai‘anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, approved to receive $850,000 for the construction of its dental clinic, will assist in the community’s dental care needs, especially for the keiki. Waianae’s youth will also benefit from the $100,000 slated for the After-School All-Stars athletic initiative. The acclaimed Searider Productions Foundation, known for its digital media expertise, will receive $110,000 for a hospitality-training program for Mākaha, Ko‘Olina, and Kapolei.
For the first time, the Wai‘anae Coast Community Foundation received approval for a $68,200 state grant to implement community events like Sunset on the Beach, Toys for Tots, food distribution, and other events.
“For years, I’ve heard their voices and the passion in them,” said Sen. Shimabukuro. “I am glad to help bring the community together in acquiring these much needed funds and resources. This is long overdue.” Other funding highlights include $151,000 and three permanent positions for Nānākuli Library, $2.5 million for the Youth Challenge Academy at Kalaeloa, and $800,000 for Nānākuli Voice of America Phase 1 Infrastructure by DHHL, all located in Sen. Shimabukuro’s district on the Wai‘anae Coast.
Additionally, Rep. Gates passed House bill HB845 which garnered $25,000 to require the Department of Public Safety, in collaboration with agencies to issue civil identification cards and to assist inmates in obtaining their birth certificate, Social Security card, and other relevant identification necessary for successful reentry into society.
Weary residents may find relief with the over $20 million in Capital Improvement Projects dedicated to Wai‘anae Coast transportation infrastructure and pedestrian safety, approved yesterday by the legislature. The rehabilitation of the Mākaha and Kaupuni bridges, the fifth-lane road extension study from Kalaeloa to Hakimo Road, and the bikeway from Waipio Point to Lualualei Naval Road will significantly help the community travel within and out of the area.
Wai‘anae Coast residents will also see agricultural park improvements, a Marine Science learning center and a rubberized, all-weather track and field for Waianae High School; crosswalk improvements, traffic signal cameras, and highway widening for efficient traffic flow, and finally, plans for the land acquisition, design, and construction of the Wai‘anae Coast secondary access road.
Lawmakers Rep. Gates and Sen. Shimabukuro, who are members of their respective finance committees, also helped garner over $100 million for projects that will benefit Leeward Oahu tremendously. UH West Oahu improvements, $18 million for Kalaeloa Airport, Kupuna care and early learning initiatives, $3 million for Kalaeloa Enterprise Avenue Energy Corridor, charter school enrichment, homeless outreach, HI Farmers Union United programs, mental illness and health care treatment programs are among those approved by the legislature’s finance committees. All will have a lasting and positive impact on the state as a whole.
Rep. Gates and Sen. Shimabukuro represent House District 44 and Senate District 21 respectively. Together, their districts encompass the Wai‘anae Coast of Mākua, Mākaha, Wai‘anae, Mai‘li, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale,
Ko ‘Olina, and Nānākuli. Both agree that the Wai‘anae Coast is not the only community in the state that deserves funding, but according to Rep. Gates, “it is our responsibility to make sure that our district residents receive their fair share and the support they deserve.”