Nine Spouting Horn county park vendors were booted from their booths noon Monday, leaving at least 40 people unemployed for about a month.
Last Wednesday the vendors were notified that bidding for new County of Kaua’i contracts would not begin on Sept. 27 as previously announced. Instead they were told to shut down operations.
The nine booths will remain closed until Oct. 27, according to Wallace Rezentes, Sr., Mayor Kusaka’s administrative assistant.
According to some vendor employees, no one was given notice in writing and county officials came to the park yesterday at noon to make sure operations were being shut down.
During October, Kauai Builders, under contract to the county, are scheduled to make accessibility improvements to the park to fulfill Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, Rezentes said.
Calls to Parks & Recreation Division director Mel Nishihara regarding the Spouting Horn closure and ADA improvements were not returned Monday.
Of the South Side county improvement projects identified in 2000, Spouting Horn was found to need improvements to accessible parking, entrance and paths, restrooms and drinking fountains, said county ADA coordinator Christina Pilkington.
The vendors’ five-year contracts ended June 30, but the Department of Public Works, Parks & Recreation Division, did not seek bids as of July 1. Instead with approval from Finance Director Wallace Rezentes, Jr. contracts were extended for 90 days, ending Sept. 30, Rezentes said. Wallace Rezentes, Jr. was not available for comment.
If the county is not ready to review bids, for whatever reason, after the contracts expire, they could extend contracts for three months to allow more time, said Elmer Muraoka, head of the county Purchasing Division and contract administrator, who is in charge of requesting bids from vendors. They are not accepting bids until Monday, Oct. 21.
“They have to bring Spouting Horn up to code for the ADA, so they’re using that month to do that,” said Don Cope, who owns a booth at Spouting Horn.
“There are at least 25 people who are going to be unemployed. Most of them are salespeople on commission and they’ll just have to…collect unemployment,” Cope said.
“I called a meeting with a lawyer representing some of the Spouting Horn vendors (last Thursday) and that was the first time the Mayor’s Office had knowledge of this,” Rezentes said.
Rezentes said he is planning a meeting this week to find options for the vendors, who will be out of work until the end of October. “I’m hopeful this thing will be resolved by Friday,” he said.
Some think those options might include temporarily moving vendors to a grassy area elsewhere in the Spouting Horn park or relocating the outfit to Nawiliwili Park, where the mayor has previously considered placing a craft fair.
A booth worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said she took a job at Spouting Horn to make ends meet, and is upset at the fact that she’ll be out of work for a month.
She added that several vendors were talking about setting up their wares this morning regardless of the yellow tape surrounding the booths and county orders to shut down.
Staff Writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at email@example.com or 245-3681 (ext. 252).