Parks people praying for sun in Po’ipu

PO’IPU — Get waves at Po’ipu.

In the parking lot?

So far, visitors have been accommodating, not complaining either to county lifeguards, other county officials, or leaders of the Poipu Beach Resort Association, about their inability to use most if not all of the main parking lot at Po’ipu Beach Park, because it is underwater.

That situation, with the inability to pump the water either out to the ocean or to an already-saturated portion of adjacent Manokalanipo Park, has county Department of Public Works Parks Division leaders praying for sun to dry out the lot.

The ocean is out of the question because of the high-quality water off Po’ipu Beach Park, said Mel Nishihara, in charge of the county DPW Parks Division.

When members of a county crew pumped water into the ocean from the parking lot in an emergency situation during last month’s heavy rains, neighbors complained to state Department of Health officials, Nishihara said.

Because the grounds of the adjacent county Manokalanipo Park remain super-saturated, water from the parking lot pumped there would end up back in the parking lot, or the holding pond that can no longer hold any more water, he explained.

“Right now we don’t have any avenues other than letting it seep down,” Nishihara said.

County leaders are looking at various options, including, possibly, pumping the parking-lot water further into Manokalanipo Park, nearer to Po’ipu Road, he said.

That might not help, he acknowledged, as the pond between the park and the parking lot, deep enough to be influenced by changing ocean tides, would likely just collect the pumped water again, and discharge the overflow back into the parking lot.

The most viable option is to hope for sunny weather, which quickly dries up the pond whenever it forms, according to Po’ipu Beach Park Ocean Safety Bureau lifeguards attached to the Kaua’i Fire Department.

The lifeguards reported that the pond was actually much deeper before, nearly covering the two-foot-high rocks that border the parking lot.

In the meantime, visitors have been parking, illegally, along Ho’one and Ho’owili roads near Po’ipu Beach Park, Nishihara said, in order to access the popular park on the “sunny side” of the island.

Nishihara said there have been no complaints about mosquitos at any of the county parks, although essentially every one has pools of standing water in the wake of last month’s torrential rains.

Jodi Kjeldsen, executive director of the Poipu Beach Resort Association, described the situation as a “waiting game,” and concurred with Nishihara and county lifeguards that there have been no visitor complaints as a result of the inability to use most of the largest parking lot serving one of the busiest county beach parks on the island.

“Visitors have been really good about (not complaining about) the effects of the storm,” Kjeldsen said.

County officials announced in a press release that Kalawai Park in Kalaheo is closed until further notice due to ground saturation and safety issues as a result of recent heavy rains.

County DPW personnel have put up a temporary fence around the park, advising members of the public to keep out.

Nishihara said the ground at Kalawai Park is so saturated that water won’t seep down, causing problems with restroom facilities at the back of the park.

Portable toilets have been placed at the county Ha’ena Beach Park on the North Shore, also because of comfort-station (restroom) issues, he said.

For more information on county parks, call the county DPW Parks Division, 241-6671.

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