Mililani Transit Center Tug Of War

Wednesday - September 17, 2008
By Kerry Miller
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While the conference room at the Mililani Transit Center measures only 800 square feet, the battle over who gets to use it is a big one.

Residents say it was promised to them as part of the original development of Mililani as a planned community. But staff from the city Department of Transportation Services want the police and the community to share the space.

Mililani Neighborhood Board chairman Dick Poirier said this space must be available to the community because there’s nowhere else for people to meet.

“The real problem is there’s no county police in Mililani, no substation, no satellite city hall,“he said. “We used to have a meeting room at the public library, but they needed the space for their periodicals section. There’s really not a lot of places that you can meet.

“We cannot lose this room.” At the board’s Aug. 27 meeting, city transportation officials Richard Torres and James Burke explained that they’d like HPD to use the conference room because of how much the transit center building has been vandalized.

“A year ago when I briefed the neighborhood board about the transit center, I said it would be a shame if this facility is not kept in good condition. After the dedication, we went back to the board within a 90-day period. Two days after the dedication (August 2007), the transit center was extensively vandalized and has continued to be vandalized,“Torres told the Central Oahu Islander on Aug. 28.

While Torres agrees that the conference room should be open to community use, he stressed that because the vandalism is so extensive, the room needs to have controlled access. If a community group wants to use the space, they’d have to go through the local police.

“With the vandalism going on, we need HPD presence in that area. I mentioned that, overall, the facility is a community facility. So it’s part of the community. The conference room can be utilized under controlled access.

“Every month that facility has been vandalized. We’ve gone in to repaint or do whatever things that we needed to. It’s not only graffiti that is going on, they are scuffing the walls and peeling the vinyl off the concrete wall; they’re doing a lot of etching,too.I visit the transit center every week to see what condition it’s in. They’ve stolen the two fire extinguishers, removed the toilet paper holder off the wall. This vandalism is so extensive that we cannot have the facility open to the public,” added Torres.

Mililani resident Laura Brown attended the Aug. 27 board meeting to speak on behalf of the board’s idea to name the room after the late MaryAnne Selander.After hearing the city’s stand,she said she was disappointed to learn the community was being gypped out of a meeting space and felt that Selander would have been disappointed as well.

Both Poirier and Brown spoke highly of Selander, who died last year at age 75, and her efforts in Mililani’s early development years to make sure the community got everything it was promised. Selander was an active volunteer in Mililani.

“She was one of the original residents,“said Brown.“They were one of the first 100 families.She was very intense about making this the first planned community, and we got all the amenities that the developer promised.”

And now that there’s finally a place where residents can gather, Brown said it’s like the HPD has stolen it from the town.

“This is what we’ve waited for for decades. The big issue is that we are powerless to the bureaucracy in downtown Honolulu. We’re supposed to be a city of 50,000 to 60,000 people (and) we still have these people telling us what to do. These weren’t just visions of things that we were supposed (to get),they were conditions of the developer getting his zoning.”

Brown referred to the developer who originally built Mililani in the 1960s. She said in order for Oceanic Properties ( and later Castle & Cooke Hawaii) to get zoning to build the homes, certain amenities were supposed to be conditions of the development, including a child care center, two high schools, two middle schools, a university, a civic center and more. A police substation wasn’t in the original plans. (The closest substation is in Wahiawa.)

Eventually, she said a fire station, homes and the post office went up on school-designated land, the childcare and civic centers were never built.

“We ended up with half the schools we were originally designed to have, and we never got our ambulance center,” Brown said.

The two-story transit center located on Meheula Parkway has an upper deck for buses and HandiVans, six bus shelters and loading platforms, a clock tower, restrooms, elevator and the conference room. The facility cost $4.67 million, with 80 percent of it state funded and the rest paid for by the city.

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