Drugs, solid waste, parks are planning group’s focus

Over the next two years, Kauai Planning and Action Alliance (KPAA) members plan to focus on solid-waste diversion, drug-use issues, public-park improvements and ways to strengthen the island’s economy.

That’s the word from Roxanne MacDougall of Kapa‘a, a facilitator of discussions during the county General Plan Update and advocate for long-term planning for the island.

The KPAA members arrived at the four key goals based on community values drawn from the General Plan Update, following assessment and member voting.

The values and goals will guide the alliance’s focus for the next two years, she said.

Here are the values, goals and specific action items associated with those values and goals:

  • Value: Caring for the island’s lands and waters;
  • Goal: Form a consortium of government, retailers, demolition and construction companies, business associations and community groups, to design an incentive-based, easily accessible system for public education and participation in solid-waste diversion, reuse and recycling;
  • Value: Supporting culture and a vibrant, healthy community;
  • Goal: Support county efforts by providing a forum for centralized planning, action, communication and networking related to drug-use demand-reduction, treatment, community reintegration and prevention;
  • Value: Preserving rural character;
  • Goal: Bring stakeholders together to find funding and other resources to improve and maintain county and state parks;
  • Value: Provide opportunities for all in a strong, diverse economy;
  • Goal: Bring business, government and community together to identify specific ways that families and communities can get involved in public education and find specific, concrete ways to make this happen.

Funding for these initiatives is coming from varied sources, including the federal government.

Though Kaua‘i didn’t qualify for designation as a federal Empowerment Zone and attending U.S. Department of Agriculture funding, the island was designated a Rural Champion Community through the process.

The Rural Champion Community designation allowed KPAA to apply for and receive grant funds through the Agenda for Building Community.

Representatives of the county Office of Economic Development pursued the federal Empowerment Zone grant.

The KPAA was formally launched earlier this year. Its mission is to bring together diverse organizations for collaborative planning and action to achieve targeted community goals.

The General Plan Update, put into law earlier this century, came with detailed vision statements and goals for the island, but also gave the public a chance to let officials know of a perceived need for more coordinated planning and action among the island’s many agencies and organizations.

Organizers see KPAA as a facilitator of such coordinated planning and action.

The Garden Island Resource Conservation & Development organization sponsored a series of educational workshops to support the General Plan Update process.

With money remaining from this budget, GIRC&D leaders approached General Plan Update consultants MacDougall and Nadine Nakamura to do research on the application of indicators to Kaua‘i’s process.

They studied 15 national-indicators programs and produced a 50-page report and plan, which was approved by the RC&D board of directors.

Since the Rural Champion Community Committee had similar goals, the two projects were merged, and funding combined.

Additional fundraising had already begun to establish KPAA as a solid, sustainable and neutral entity to bring organizations together for collaborative action, MacDougall explained.

In June of last year, KPAA organizers held a kickoff forum involving over 100 leaders representing diverse organizations and government agencies.

Seven task groups were formed: three to set up KPAA, and four to choose the top goals that would be the core of KPAA work over the next two years. Those goals are listed here.

Over 40 leaders volunteered to attend several meetings to prioritize goals and make the KPAA a reality.

The top goals were drawn from another KPAA work product, a summary report of the General Plan and 16 other county plans, listing goals and implementing actions for which the KPAA could play a significant role.

At the KPAA forum this year, both Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste and County Council Chair Bill “Kaipo” Asing spoke in support of the group’s mission.

The top three “finalist” goals from four values-based task groups were presented by task-group members.

A luncheon that followed featured a KPAA-inspired recognition program begun with last year’s kickoff forum.

Called the Kaua‘i Community Champions, it recognizes best practices in grassroots organizations.

Last year, the honorees were the Kaua‘i Mokihana Festival, Waipa Foundation, and Kawaihau District Leadership Coalition. This year, Hui o Laka-Kokee Natural History Museum and Friends of Kamalani were added to the list.

For more information on KPAA, please call MacDougall, 822-5798.

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