Hawaii lawmakers have decided not to spend $33 million to buy a coral atoll nearly 1,000 miles to the south, and a member of the family that owns the property says plenty of other buyers have expressed interest.
The Fullard-Leo family of Honolulu had given state lawmakers until the end of their current legislative session, scheduled to adjourn Monday, to come up with the money or it would sell the uninhabited Palmyra atoll to someone else."If the state doesn't buy it now, I'm sure it's not going to be here next year," said Ainsley Fullard-Leo, 57, the youngest of three brothers who own the U-shaped string of islets 960 miles south of Hawaii and 200 miles north of the equator.
House Finance Committee Chairman Joseph Souki said the Palmyra was not included in the state budget when it was finalized by House and Senate conferees on Thursday.
"I think it's too expensive anyway," he said.
Told of the Legislature's decision, Fullard-Leo said, "I think the state's making a big mistake."
Now that the state has passed on it, the family will probably consider other offers, Fullard-Leo said. Offers in the $30 million range and higher have come from U.S. and Japanese companies as well as one unidentified Pacific nation, he said.