KEKAHA — Residents were invited to take part in a West Kauai Community Plan meeting Monday night at Kaumakani Neighborhood Center — but not many did.
Only seven people showed up at the third gathering in a series of four seeking local feedback on future development on the Westside.
One pressing frustration at the three-hour meeting was a solution to alleviate concentrated traffic on the island.
“It’s not going to get better, it’s only going to get worse,” said Dan Works, a 19-year resident of Ele’ele.
The removal of unnecessary speed limit changes on the main highway, a remnant leftover from the once-thriving sugar mill industry, and implementation of alternate routes on the south side were among his suggested changes.
Those local sugar mills have remained the proverbial elephant in the room throughout these meetings, with residents agreeing on the need for action but unsettled on which direction to take.
Suggestions range from refurbishing the mill into a textile factory to opening a rock climbing gym.
“The Westside is lacking an economic engine,” said Robert Westerman of Kekaha, who would like to see the site developed into a center for light industry. “Make it something on the road to the most visited place on the island with food, culture, a museum.”
Among the attendees were Kauai County Council candidates Adam Roversi and Juno Ann Apalla, who came to take stock of community feedback and participation.
Roversi expressed understanding the need to preserve and diversify agricultural land, which sustains many families in the region, while Apalla identified housing and infrastructure as key areas for improvement.
“Several concerns here are consistent with concerns everywhere on Kauai,” said Apalla whose grandmother is a resident of Hanapepe.
The fourth and final meeting of the Kauai County Planning Department’s discovery phase is scheduled tonight at the Kekaha Neighborhood Center.
Organizers are hoping for a large turnout and high participation.
“This is a community that cares a lot about shared spaces,” said planner Marie Williams when asked what the department had thus far learned. “There are lots of spaces on the Westside that we need to be more proactive about preserving and maintaining access to.”