Case says harbor project isn’t dead

U.S. Rep. Ed Case, D-Neighbor Islands-rural O’ahu, was on Kaua’i Sunday afternoon for two talk-story sessions.

The sessions were at the Koloa Neighborhood Center, and at the Kapa’a Elementary School cafeteria.

In an interview at The Garden Island after the talk-story sessions, Case said that the Kiki’aola Small Boat Harbor project is not dead in the water.

“Kiki’aola is still on the books with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” said Case.

He said that the harbor-improvement project is a priority for the Corps, and that $9 million in federal funding has been made available for the project. He expects another $3.5 million to be ear-marked for the project within the next several weeks.

That would bring the federal government’s share of 80 percent of the cost of the project up to $12.5 million. The state would kick in 20 percent of the cost to improve the harbor.

The pooled funds would create a project worth between $15 and $16 million, said Case.

When bids were opened late last month, they were each for $17 million.

“Just because the bids came in high, it does not mean that the project is dead,” said Case.

He said that the project has to be modified, and rebid. It has to be scaled back, but it will still be the same, basic project, Case added.

The congressman also said he was asked about spending patterns at Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative. He also said that he was handed anonymous letters from KIUC employees.

He said that he had not yet had a chance to read the letters but planned to forward them to the president of the KIUC’s board.

“I told people that this is a cooperative. This is up to you to determine where and how you want your coop to grow. My role is to make sure that when people discuss concerns with me, that those concerns are dealt with with the leadership of your cooperative. But it’s your call on who’s going to lead your coop and in what direction,” said Case.

At the sessions, Case said that he got a sense of a loss of local control over the future of Kaua’i, and that that sense of loss is accelerating.

“I keep on telling people that civic involvement is crucial. Decisions have to be made — get involved in the process. Otherwise, somebody is going to make that decision for you,” he said.

He said that that sense of loss is going on throughout the district he represents.

“It pops up in discussions on housing, discussions on environmental preservation, on traffic and transportation, on growth,” said Case.

Case was elected in a special election in November 2002 to complete the remainder of the late Congresswoman Patsy Takemoto Mink’s term of office.

Case said that her husband, John Mink, who passed away last week in Massachusetts, ran against him in that race.

“It was an uncomfortable situation for me because I did not want to run against him,” said Case, adding that they had lunch the next day after the election.

“He told me what Patsy wanted to do,” said Case.

A native of Pennsylvania, John Mink graduated from Penn State University and earned a master’s degree in hydrology at the University of Chicago, where he met his future wife. They were married in 1951.

“I think that Patsy Mink might not have had the career that she had without John Mink. I think he gave her the balance and the base from which she was able to go forward and represent people throughout Hawai’i for so many decades,” said Case.

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