After almost 10 years as the man in charge of Molokai Ranch, Peter Nicholas will be stepping down. The Pacific Business News reported last Friday that Clay R. Rumbaoa, from Castle & Cooke’s Lanai operation, has been named to replace Nicholas as executive director for Molokai Properties Ltd.
Nicholas, 62, worked closely with members of the Molokai community between 2003 and 2008 in an attempt to develop La’au Point on Molokai’s southwest corner. MPL, in coordination with the Molokai Enterprise Community, created a Master Plan for the development of La’au Point and the permanent conservation of over 50,000 acres of Molokai Ranch land.
As the opposition to this plan grew, Nicholas became more reticent about Molokai Ranch’s plans for the future. Once the state Land Use Commission hearing on Molokai virtually ended any hope for a 200-lot development at La’au Point, Nicholas withdrew even further from the community. From that point, Nicholas stopped granting media interviews and was rarely seen on island.
When MPL shuttered all of its Molokai operations in April of 2008, Nicholas made it clear that these actions were a direct result of the opposition to the La’au development. In a letter explaining the sudden closing, Nicholas wrote, “Unacceptable delays caused by continued opposition to every aspect of the Master Plan means we are unable to fund continued normal company operations … We deeply regret to have taken this step as the main impact will be on our loyal employees.”
These actions put 120 people out of work overnight and shut down the Ranch Lodge, Kaupoa Beach Village, Kaluakoi Golf Course, Maunaloa Tri-Plex Theater and the cattle ranch itself.
In March of this year, Nicholas explained in a public meeting why MPL had recently entered into an agreement with Pattern Energy to begin plans to develop a 200-megawatt wind farm. Hawaiian Electric Company and the State of Hawaii had been planning to build a large-scale wind farm in west Molokai for more than two years, Nicholas said. While MPL had resisted previous attempts from First Wind to build a wind farm, Nicholas said the Governor’s office had pressured MPL to pursue this wind project or risk a total land condemnation through eminent domain action.
Rumbaoa will work with Nicholas during this transition through the end of the year. He was most recently director of engineering and development for Lanai with Castle & Cooke Resorts LLC since 2005, according to MPL’s parent company, the Singapore-based GuocoLeisure.
Nicholas will continue to oversee GuocoLeisure’s investment in Fiji, according to the report in PBN.