Baptiste wants new fire stations for Wailua Homesteads, Kapa’a

NUKOLI’I – Among his visions for Kapa’a, Mayor Bryan Baptiste wants to abandon the existing Kapa’a fire station, along Kuhio Highway in Waipouli and in the tsunami (tidal wave) inundation zone, in favor of new stations in Wailua Homesteads and up Kawaihau Road in Kapa’a.

The new stations would provide quicker emergency response to residential areas away from the coast, and provide downhill runs to the shore when emergencies are reported there, he said.

Currently, the Kapa’a fire station responds to emergencies from Anahola to Wailua Homesteads. Residents in some areas covered by the Kapa’a fire station pay higher home-insurance rates because of long response times from the existing station.

The existing Kapa’a fire station could be converted into a youth center, Baptiste said during remarks delivered to the Kapaa Business Association at the Radisson Kauai Beach Resort.

County representatives are in negotiations with the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, operators of Mahelona Medical Center, for use of portions of that Kawaihau Road property for a new fire station, a separate residential drug-treatment facility, and another building for Police Athletic League (PAL) functions, Baptiste said.

In the heart of Kapa’a, at Kapaa Beach Park, he envisions a regional town park that will have historical and cultural information available through walking tours of the park, a concrete wall for showing movies for youngsters on weekend nights, and space for archery, flying of remote-controlled planes, and other uses.

To make room for all of this, he wants to move the existing soccer field to an 11-acre parcel behind the East Kauai Professional Building, across from Kapaa Neighborhood Center.

Baptiste said he also would like to move away from the highway the tall fence at Kapaa Beach Park, to make room for two rows of vehicle parking parallel to Kuhio Highway.

The park in the middle of town should be a gathering place both for residents and visitors, he told about 40 people at the Kapaa Business Association gathering.

The first section of a planned coastal bikeway and pathway from Lihu’e to Anahola, a section going around and through Lydgate Park, is almost finished, he reported.

The second section will be from Waikaea Canal to Kealia, and is expected to begin construction soon, with another phase running from Kealia to Kuna Bay, also known as Donkey Beach.

“We dream big,” said Baptiste, adding that he is not sure how much can be accomplished in his four-year term of office. While these remain his ideas, the mayor stressed that the exact vision for a town’s future should come from the community members who inhabit it.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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