The County of Hawai‘i’s latest acquisition in the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resource Preservation program will protect 217 acres in Kona, between Kohanaiki Shores and the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai‘i.
‘O‘oma was the last privately-held open coastline area between Kailua town and the Kūki‘o resort, and was the top-ranked property on the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Commission’s latest report. The Māmalahoa Trail and Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail run through the property, and the preservation of ‘O‘oma also will help preserve ocean quality and contribute to a healthy reef.
“This open space purchase is the culmination of over 25 years of efforts on the part of the Kona community, which held onto a vision of an open coastline at Kohanaiki and ‘O‘oma,” said Councilwoman Karen Eoff, who has been involved with the community movement to protect Kohanaiki and ‘O‘oma in various capacities over the years. “This is an awesome gift to our community and validates the power in a shared vision.”
The purchase of the ‘O‘oma property closed on December 31, 2013 for $6.2 million, slightly more than half the $12 million asking price. Kohanaiki Shores, the neighboring development that has shown a commitment to preserving the beauty of Kona, assisted the County in the purchase with a $2 million donation.
This acquisition also enhances the public benefit of the 1.5 mile Kohanaiki Beach Park just to the south of ‘O‘oma, which opened to the public in June 2013. The County anticipates preserving ‘O‘oma in its current natural condition as a buffer between the mauka urban area and the ocean, while allowing access for passive recreation and subsistence fishing.
“This open space purchase adds another important, publicly owned shoreline recreational area that will serve many thousands of our residents, and will provide a place for our children and families to enjoy for generations to come,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “This purchase required a cooperative effort by many community members, and we thank them for their efforts.”
Since taking office, Mayor Kenoi’s administration has purchased more than 1,247 acres to preserve shorelines and open space for children, families, and the community. Since 2008, the County has acquired open space at Kāwā (785 acres) in Ka‘ū; Kaiholena (228 acres) and Pāo‘o (10 acres) in Kohala; and La‘aloa (6 acres) and ‘O‘oma (217 acres) in Kona under the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation program.