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University of Hawaii regents to hear more Thirty Meter Telescope testimony in Hilo

Pacific Business News - SEE ORIGINAL STORY HERE

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents has scheduled a second special meeting in Hilo this weekend to hear concerns and support from the community on the planned Thirty Meter Telescope project, as opposition to the internationally-backed $1.4 billion planned observatory for Mauna Kea holds construction at a standstill.

UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said it is unclear what the regents’ legal capacity is to halt the project, since the board gave its approval to the project in June 2010. The board held its regular meeting last week in Hilo.

“When the board meeting ended on Thursday, there were a number who didn’t have an opportunity to testify,” he said. “Chair Randy Moore promised to return as soon as possible so everyone’s voice could be heard. Sunday’s meeting is fulfilling that promise.”

While there are already 13 observatories on Mauna Kea, TMT Observatory Corp. will be the first observatory on the mountain to pay rent, starting at $300,000 a year and increasing to $1 million a year once it begins operations in 2024.

Eighty percent of the TMT lease rent will go to the Office of Mauna Kea Management for stewardship of the mountain, and the remaining 20 percent will be given to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. The nonprofit has also launched annual $2 million contributions to a technology workforce training program and a Science Technology Engineering and Math education program.

The 13 other Mauna Kea observatories sit on public land leased for $1 a year to the University of Hawaii Hilo, which in turn subleases it for $1.

The projected multimillion-dollar economic impact on the local community does not satisfy protestors who demand a permanent halt to the project and that UH Hilo’s lease on Mauna Kea, which is set to expire in 2033, not be renewed by the DLNR

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