Photos: Courtesy of Rae Huo
The Navy completed historic research and analysis in June 2014 about the battlefield significance of the former Marine Corps Air Station ‘Ewa. The resulting documentation determined that the site is likely eligible to be designated on the National Register of Historic Places for its association with events significant to the history of the country. The “Determination of Eligibility” will be reviewed by accepting officials at the State Historic Preservation Division, the US Navy and the Department of Interior (which is the Keeper of the National Register) to make the final determination on the historic significance and remaining integrity of the resources.
According to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (Case Digest: Section 106 in Action), the Navy is proposing to approve construction of a 5.91-megawatt photovoltaic (PV) field array on approximately 20 acres of land leased to Ford Island Ventures (FIV). The proposal includes a sublease by FIV to the Kalaeloa Renewable Energy Park LLC, a company formed to develop this project. The runways at Ewa Field were initially proposed location for the PV field. Upon consultation with the SHPO, Native Hawaiian groups, interested parties, and the public, the proposed PV field was relocated to a parcel adjacent to the runways, known as “the panhandle.”
LISTED AS ENDANGERED IN 2008
Article Written BY: Michael Keany, HONOLULU Magazine
What is it?
Originally established in 1925 as a Navy field for airships—yes, dirigibles—this military site was used only sporadically until early 1941, when the Marine Corps converted it into an active airfield as World War II heated up around the world. When the Japanese fighter pilots buzzed in close on Dec. 7, they were able to destroy or badly damage almost 50 aircraft, and kill four Marines. The field itself was left relatively unscathed, and continued to play an important role in training and deploying Marines during the war.
‘Ewa Field was officially decommissioned in 1952. Today, the airfield sits empty, overgrown with grass and kiawe trees.
What threatens it?
As we went to press, the Navy, which had owned the property, transferred 499 acres of Kalaeloa land, including parcels containing the former Marine Corps Air Station, to private developer Ford Island Properties, a subsidiary of Texas-based Hunt Companies.
The transfer went through without the historic resource inventory analysis requested by the state Historic Preservation Division, a survey that would have cataloged the historically significant architectural, archaeological and cultural elements of the property.
Ford Island Properties hasn’t made public its intentions for the land, but given its prime location near the Barbers Point Golf Course and the 67-acre shopping center being planned by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, it’s safe to say it will make an attractive site for development.
What can be done?
Historic Hawai‘i Foundation is working with the Navy, Ford Island Properties, State Historic Preservation Division and other stakeholders to ensure that the area’s history and remaining historic properties are inventoried and taken into account in both master planning and in individual projects as they proceed. There are both federal and state preservation and environmental statutes that apply to the area. These often include public comment opportunities, where stakeholders can voice any concerns.