Waimanalo wants Air Force to return Bellows land

Board asked to seek Bellows land

A proposed resolution claims the Air Force no longer needs 400 acres and should give it up

By Kaylee Noborikawa

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jul 12, 2009

20090712_nws_bellows1

Some Waimanalo residents are calling for the U.S. Air Force to return about 400 acres from Bellows Air Force Station because the land is being used for recreation rather than critical military purposes.

“I’m asking the neighborhood board to adopt a resolution which asks for the return (of the land), and I expect the neighborhood board to transfer that resolution to Congress, our senators, and President Obama,” said Joseph Ryan, a former member of the Waimanalo Neighborhood Board and a Waimanalo resident since the 1960s.

Ryan drafted the resolution after receiving an environmental assessment in March by the U.S. Air Force which wants to construct at Bellows 48 vacation rentals, a nine-hole disc golf course, a community activity center, a car wash, a water park, a resort pool, and a nine-hole par-3 golf course.

Ryan said his action is not related to the military’s closing of Bellows to the public for a month recently. The popular beach and camping area was closed because of misuse and vandalism, military officials had said. It was reopened over the July 4th weekend.

According to Ryan, the state should get the land, which was appropriated by President Woodrow Wilson in 1917, since the military is no longer using it for its original military purpose.

A total of 1,510 acres of ceded land was appropriated in the presidential executive order, but in 1999, about 1,100 acres were transferred to the U.S. Marine Corps, according to the Corps.

“When the Air Force decided by its EA to use the base for recreational services, they made the decision that this is no longer critical defense purposes. Recreation is a collateral purpose. It doesn’t support the primary mission,” said Ryan.

The military responded by saying that although the primary mission is recreation, the Armed Forces continue to train on the land. Hickam’s 15th Security Forces Squadron, U.S. Marine Corps security forces, and the Honolulu Police Department use Bellows for training, including building clearing, hostage negotiation training, and robbery response.

“Bellows continues to fill key roles in troop recreation and training,” said Capt. Christy Stravolo of the Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs. “One of the key priorities of the Air Force Chief of Staff is airman morale and readiness. Bellows contributes to this priority every day.”

The Bellows Air Force Station offers cabins, camping sites, and other recreational activities for military retirees, soldiers in the reserve/guard, active military members, and U.S. Department of Defense civilians. According to Stravolo, 500,000 visitors use Bellows’ facilities every year.

“Troops can’t afford the expensive commercial establishments, so here’s a chance they have to relax with their families at a very reasonable price. The fees they charge are quite a bit less than Waikiki,” said Gen. Robert Lee.

Lee is in charge of the Army National Guard at Bellows and trains newly promoted sergeants on unit tactics.

“I think we can work it out with the community. We allow the Waimanalo Neighborhood Board to use our facility for their meetings; I believe we can work out a good solution,” Lee said.

MEETING

The Waimanalo Neighborhood Board will meet at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at Waimanalo Public Library to discuss the recreational use of land at Bellows Air Force Station. Public testimony is welcome.

Source: http://www.starbulletin.com/news/20090712_Board_asked_to_seek_Bellows_land.html

2 Comments

Kawehi Kanui

These comes a time when one has to say, STOP this is enough. I’m being nice.

Go Home already and rest and relax there with your families…where you belong…we want our lands back to restore everything they ruined such as our sacred sites; fishing ponds, lo’i taro lands, water rersources, limu and ocean restoration project, canoe building and educational centers to learn about the ocean and universe. That’s what some of us has a vision for all of the lands of Bellows. Also, on the purported Hawaiian Homelands, put our people and create jobs where the community can benefit from and to care for their families in order to keep our people out of prison, homeless, on welfare, on drugs and held hostages. It would save the US alot of money if they would stop being in denial and admit they are occupying our country

We don’t care how expensive the hotels are, go and make a deal with them to lower their hotel costs for you folks…they always do. The military has first priority on everything expensive so they can get their visit comped by the military since it is the military who owns the tourism system. Return Waimanalo Bay to the (native) Tenants…is what we are advocating. Just like they gave Kaho’olawe to the ‘ohana, they can give it to us.

People like Joe Ryan, try to be the voice of the people, when infact he is the voice of the State and the U.S. military in my view. That’s okay at least i know who he is and he shall be treated accordingly.

However at the recent Monday night’s meeting July 13, 2009, the resolution was delayed until further notice because many of us in the room wanted to have input into the resolution and make sure issues regarding the CROWN LANDS, didn’t slip out of our hands without protecting the vested rights of the native Tenant.

Kauhale O Waimanalo gave input for a native tenants meeting, turned in to a community meeting. and not sure how it’s going to turn out or if we will have the meeting because I got a mail from Wilson Ho telling me that he made a mistake by not passing the resolution. If Ryan though it was important for the board to pass the resolution he should have said something. He said nothing…now Wilson Ho is feeling he “made a mistake” I can send you his e-mail.

Oh and by the way, I suggested you as a speaker at that upcoming meeting still being planned, I also suggested Keanu Sai and Jon Osorio since one has an analysis on Crown and Government lands and the other can tell us what this case means in regard to these lands the military wanted to use by passing it and taking it to Washington, D. C. to secure for their use only.
Mind you, they would make money off of it. Also suggested the woman archaeologist who used to work in Waimanalo, Kekuni Blaisdell and yourself. Maybe we will get them to do their job.

Of course now, anything can happen when you have people unclear about the direction calling the shots.

Take care,
Kawehi.

Keona

It continues to amaze me that people think that former crown lands are any different that government lands now. They were, are, and would still be government lands, not private lands.

I’ve found the military to be both a saver and destructor of Hawaiian plants, animals, and historical sites. Back in the old days they destroyed but over the last several dedades they’ve actually preserved areas or critical habitat as well as undertaken restroration projects to help protect native plants, animals, and cultural sites.

I’m sure that’s not going to be a real popular to say these things here but the truth is the best place to start.

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