Citizens concerned about use of public parking

Herb Case of Po’ipu gets overzealous whenever he talks about protecting public parking at the county’s Po’ipu Beach Park.

Case contends the contractor for the new Waiohai Beach Club, Unlimited Construction Services., is depriving the public’s right to use all of the parking lot by using a part of it as a staging area for the work.

“It is a case of a developer using county property to make money, and that’s not right,” Case said.

But Ian Costa, acting county engineer, said the use is temporary and that the small western portion of the parking lot being used by the contractor will be returned to the county with improvements that will benefit the public.

Case said he is going to fight city hall if he doesn’t get the right answers, and has enlisted the aid of Ray Chuan, a candidate for the Kaua’i County Council this year.

“He came down here, and I called him because he did some good things fighting (commercial tour) boating on the North Shore,” Case said. “Maybe he can do something here.”

Marriott Ownership Resorts is converting the former Waiohai 461-room hotel into a 227-unit timeshare resort for $50 million. The resort sits on 11.8 acres.

As part of the work, Unlimited previously received county approval to use a small part of Ho’one Road, by the eastern border of the resort, for an access road for construction crews, equipment and supplies.

In July, the contractor also asked the county to use a strip of land by the access road for its staging area.

Costa said it was his understanding that Mayor Maryanne Kusaka reached an agreement with the contractor that required Unlimited to enlarge the park, build sidewalks and playgrounds and resurface parts of Ho’one Road.

In a July 16 letter to Costa, Randy Finlay, vice president of Unlimited, which has an office in Lihu’e, estimated the work would be privately funded at a cost of up to $36,000.

These improvements, along with grading and relandscaping by the access road, would be in place after the contractor leaves the job, Costa said.

Costa said he rejected the two requests from the construction company because “I personally feel you don’t inconvenience the public (to that extent).”

Costa said, however, that the improvements will benefit the public in the long run.

As a condition for approval of its project, Marriott paid up to $800,000 to improve the park, including the creation and pavement of the parking lot, the installation of trees and an irrigation system and revegetation, Costa said.

Case also said the contractor’s use of the parking lot has resulted in the near obliteration of a public-right-of-way path between Po’ipu Road and the beach. Only a shortened path remains, Case said.

County officials said, however, the right-of-way is protected and that they expect it to be fully restored once the construction work is completed.

Case said he fought to maintain a public right-of-way on Makaha Beach on Oahu when he lived on that island between 1950 and 1970.

“The neighbors tried to cover up the path with plants, and so I went down to city hall to complained,” said Case, who is 81 years old. “I am planing to do the same here, again.”

Case also complained the contractor’s use of the parking lot has resulted in the loss of 100 parking spaces.

Many stalls are used by construction workers now, reducing the overall number of parking stalls used by the public, Case said.

He also objected to the posting of signs advertising the availability of timeshare units at the resort.

“The signs are on county property, and they shouldn’t be put there,” Case said. “I am not going to run for public office, but if I were, I couldn’t put campaign signs in a public park. The law wouldn’t allow it.”

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