Old Maui High School campus at Hamakuapoko. Photo by Ryan Piros – County of Maui.
Organizers of a community meeting in Pāʻia were met with heavy opposition from area residents to plans for leasing the Old Maui High School campus to TEACH Development LLC, a company that is looking to utilize the 23 acre campus.
An online petition drew more than 1900 signatures, criticizing the project for lack of community engagement, with opponents arguing that the county could make better use of the historical site for projects that better meet the needs of the community.
The petition states: “We believe the county should consider collaboration with local non-profits who are already established and understand the community’s social, economic, and cultural problems. Local entities deserve this space, we have much bigger need for Charter Schools, Agriculture & Native Plant Greenhouses, or Kupuna (elders) centers.”
Representatives of TEACH LLC say their mission is to re-purpose the site to foster increased and sustainable social economic and environmental benefits for Maui.
Representatives told Maui County councilmembers in August that the educational center would also provide opportunities for training in clean technology, green jobs, and innovation farming.
The Mayor recommended the proposal
of Teach Development LLC “based on the organization’s qualifications, including financial backing and relevant expertise.”
The Council’s Economic Development, Energy, Agriculture and Recreation Committee noted that the 24-acre Old Maui High School in Pāʻia opened in 1913 and closed in 1972, when the new Maui High School opened in Kahului.
The Old Maui High School’s mission-style administration building and classroom were designed by noted Hawaiʻi architect Charles W. Dickey, according to committee notes. The committee also noted that although the campus is listed on the Hawaiʻi Register of Historic Places, the property has been sitting vacant since its closure, “without substantial upkeep.”
At the time, Maui’s Economic Development Director informed the Committee that the Friends of Old Maui High School has provided caretaking for the property for the last decade with grants from the County of between $65,000 to $100,000 per year; “however, the group informed the Department it could no longer take care of the property because the costs of infrastructure and other necessary improvements were too high.”
The Director said the Mayor’s office issued a request for proposals on Sept. 1, 2014, seeking input from groups interested in leasing the campus and reportedly received several proposals.