Your Government — Is camping coming to Lydgate Park?

LIHU‘E — The decision on whether or not to allow camping by permit at Lydgate Park rests with members of the Kaua‘i County Council.

The proposal is a top priority of those in Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste’s administration, in efforts to expand recreational opportunities for residents in East Kaua‘i.

At their meeting at the historic County Building last week, members of the council’s Community Assistance Committee took no action on the proposal regarding the use of 31 campsites near the Kamalani Kai Bridge.

Committee members said they want more information from leaders of the Kaua‘i County Offices of Community Assistance before taking action.

Leaders in OCA’s Recreation Agency are anticipated to respond to questions about the adequacy of parking and restroom facilities, and issues of security.

The campsites are ready to be used, and were built as part of a master plan for Lydgate Park that had been supported by many residents, including those affiliated with the Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park.

Baptiste is asking council members to approve operation of the campsites.

If approved, the campsites will be the first fee-based ones on the island.

Wailua Homesteads resident Glenn Mickens has been the biggest critic of the project.

He said he has the same concerns Councilmember Mel Rapozo has about alleged drug sales and criminal activities near the camp sites, which are located along the southern coastal edge of the park.

Rapozo, a retired Kaua‘i Police Department officer and detective, said KPD is undermanned, and wonders whether officers will be able to respond in a timely manner to emergencies at the campsite once the project gets under way.

Kaua‘i police brass say they can handle the job, but noted that another KPD beat may have to be added to enhance KPD’s ability to respond to calls.

Supporters of the project, including those with the Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park, say challenges can be resoled, and that there are sufficient restrooms and more-than-adequate vehicular parking for the 31 campsites.

Three of the campsite were built to be in compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Twenty-seven of the campsites will have tables, tent pads and barbecue grills.

The campsites are designed to accommodate up to five people for each 10-foot-by-10-foot site, and 10 people for each 20-foot-by-20-foot site.

All told, the campground could accommodate a maximum of 400 campers.

Plans also call for a $5-per-day assessment for state residents for an individual campsite, a $75-per-day assessment for a group-camping site for residents, a $25-per-day assessment for a campsite for non-residents, and a $150-per-day assessment for a group-camping site for non-residents.

Supporters say the campsites figure to become an asset to the Lydgate Park complex, which has gone through expansion though a master plan that has been incrementally implemented with $5 million in government and private funds.

Advancing those plans have been Thomas Noyes, an active community leader and a key member of Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park, and Tim Bynum, founder of the group.

In other matters, members of the same council committee received for the record documentation of compliance with state and federal mandates from officials in the OCA’s Agency on Elderly Affairs.

If those mandates are not complied with, Kaua‘i County leaders stand to lose parts or all of an estimated $1 million in federal and state funds.

Officials cited the need to hire a person to develop a service and program plan for seniors, as a top priority for meeting the governmental compliance standards. County officials said the hiring process to find that specialist is under way.

Leaders of the Agency on Elderly Affairs use the funds to serve hundreds of senior citizens, they said. Officials with the state Executive Office on Aging said OCA leader Bernard Carvalho is working with them to reach compliance.

Rapozo said moving toward compliance isn’t the same as being in compliance, and he is worried money that is helping seniors now could be taken away.

Carvalho said he is working diligently to make sure that scenario does not develop.

In other matters, the children of Kawaihau District (Kapa‘a), and the young-at-heart, are slated to get new playground equipment in their neighborhood parks.

Members of the council Parks and Public Works Committee are recommending using about $148,000 in surplus funds to enhance parks in that district, the largest population area of the county, and to buy new equipment for them.

Lester Chang, staff writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or lchang@kauaipubco.com.

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