Drugtreatment center advances

The island’s first residential drug-treatment center for Kaua’i youth moved closer to becoming a reality this week.

Members of the Kaua’i County Planning Commission, who met at the Lihu’e Civic Center on Tuesday, unanimously approved permits leaders in Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste’s administration sought to build the $1.4- million-dollar facility.

The 16-bed facility is anticipated to hasten and improve rehabilitation services for Kaua’i youths, allowing them to receive treatment on the Garden Island and be close to family members.

Now, Kaua’i youth have to go to off-island facilities for such residential treatment, a situation that may have impeded quicker recovery from substance abuse, some county officials have said.

The project is a multimilliondollar undertaking by officials of federal, state and county agencies, and private donors.

The project is a key part of the Kaua’i Community Drug Response Plan that was initiated by leaders of the Baptiste administration and supported by community members to significantly curb substance abuse on the island.

The plan calls for treatment, enforcement, prevention, and community involvement, as ways to reach that goal.

Commissioner Theodore “Ted” Daligdig III told The Garden Island that language was added to permit conditions that would give priority to serving the youth of Kaua’i without “discriminating against youths from other islands” needing rehabilitation services.

Commission members also required that dust shields be put up during the development of the facility, so that dust will not interrupt the salt-making activities of Native Hawaiians near Salt Pond Beach Park, Daligdig said. “No one spoke against (the project),” he added.

The project is to take form on the grounds of the old Kauai Humane Society complex in Hanapepe. The complex sits on around an acre of land. Gov. Linda Lingle signed an executive order to change the use of the project site, officials have said.

Plans call for the two existing buildings to be renovated into administrative office space, meeting rooms, a kitchen, and storage space.

The original plan calls for two, county-owned, portable buildings to be renovated so that each would accommodate eight beds, for a total of 16 beds. Another portable building is to be used as a “common area,” to deliver services to the youth, officials have said.

The three buildings had been used by staffers with the Kaua’i County Prosecutor’s Office, in an area behind the Kaua’i War Memorial Convention Hall in Lihu’e. Members of the county prosecutor’s department were relocated to the new Kaua’i Police Department building by the Lihu’e Airport.

Funding for the new facility has come from various sources:

  • Kaua’i County leaders are to receive $383,000 from the U.S.-Department of Health & Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration, for the facility, U.S. Rep. Ed Case, D-Neighbor Islands-rural O’ahu, announced Wednesday.

Roy Nishida, the county’s anti-drug coordinator, said the funds would be used to furnish the facility.

The funds are among $2.3 million in federal funds that were awarded to officials of various Hawai’i governmental entities, Case said. “These funds will address a wide range of needs, the essence of which is the health, safety, and well-being of our rural communities,” said Case. “A major priority of mine in Congress has been strengthening the connection between our federal government and our rural communities, which are too often underserved in areas such as health and education because of their geographic isolation or distance from government services. These grants will help close some gaps in government service provided to residents in rural areas;”

  • In late 2004, Lt. Gov. James R. “Duke” Aiona presented Baptiste a $560,000 check. At the same time, county leaders had collected $50,000 in donations, and folks had pledged to provide $100,000 in private funds to help create the facility.

The new facility is anticipated to be self-sustaining, through fees charged for patient services and payments made by insurance companies and federal and state agencies for substance-abuse services, Baptiste has said;

  • The project also received a helping hand from members of the county Board of Water Supply, who approved the installation of a new water line to the new facility, at no additional cost to the project. The installation would have cost $1.2 million, county officials said.

Nishida is anticipated to oversee the work. “The site plan has been developed, and we have to design it now,” he said.

County building permits have to be secured, and construction at the site could start as early as December 2006, Nishida said.

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