Another “Superferry” fiasco in the making? Military training proposed at former Kulani prison

The Hawaii Tribune Herald published an article about the proposal to transfer former Kulani Prison land to the state of Hawai’i Department of Defense.    More details are emerging about the scope of training the military plans for the land. Two words come to mind “Hawaii Superferry”.

Here are excerpts from the Hawaii Tribune Herald:

Former prison may be converted into a training facility for military

The former Kulani prison could become a training base for a 150-soldier company to learn how to detect roadside bombs, perform emergency aerial evacuations and make forced entries into buildings.

That’s according to a proposal from the Hawaii Department of Defense, which also wants to operate a quasi-military program for at-risk teens.

Military training was not mentioned in July 2009. That was when state and military leaders announced plans to close the Big Island’s only prison located off of Stainback Highway, about 20 miles south of Hilo.

“In conjunction with the Hawaii Army National Guard training on the 600 acres, DOD intends to develop and operate a short-distance range, conduct Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT) at the former boys’ school, conduct company-size and lower-level training along roadways and the pasture area, and develop landing zones in the pasture and near the camp for emergency evacuation and training,” states the supportive recommendation of Laura Thielen, DLNR chairwoman.

A former quarry would be converted into a live-fire pistol range to replace the one that’s closed at the guard’s Keaukaha Military Reservation in Hilo, said Brig. Gen. Gary Ishikawa.

This is Governor Lingle’s scorched earth campaign at the end of her term.  The transfer of 8000 acres of Waiakea rainforest to the military for company sized training is unconscionable.  The trial balloon was floated by the state last November with a proposal to create a National Guard Youth ChalleNGe academy in the closed Kulani prison site. Many in the community protested the closure of Kulani, one of the most successful sex-offender treatment programs in Hawai’i.  At the time there was no mention of military training, although activists suspected that the military had ulterior motives for the land transfer.  Now we see that this was always the hidden objective for the plan to close Kulani.  It fits with the secretive style of Governor Lingle. She tried to do the same thing with the Hawaii Superferry, trying to sneak then force the project through approval processes without an environmental impact statement.  It created a financial, legal and environmental disaster. In the end, it became clear that the Superferry was  really a front for a military transport prototype.

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