Pilaa road feud continues

Amy Marvin disputes an account by Joe O’Hagan recently that members of her family turned a footpath into an illegal road at Pila‘a.

She contends that the road was always there, and is maintained routinely.

A jury-trial date is set in a lawsuit that involves the road that led to the largest U.S. environmental fine against a single landowner.

James Pflueger is scheduled to go to Fifth Circuit Court Jan. 8 in a property-damage case filed against him by Richard and Amy Marvin, along with relatives and friends.

In their civil suit filed in 2002, the Marvins seek general, special and punitive damages caused by Pflueger’s construction activities for a subdivision that was to be built on roughly 400 acres he owns above Pila‘a Bay.

The Marvins allege that heavy rainstorms in November 2001 turned the dirt into mud, and that the mud slid down the road and damaged their beachfront property.

Pflueger filed a counterclaim in 2003, alleging that the Marvins hired a contractor to cut, grade and widen the road that is located on his land, and that they did so without letting him know what they were doing.

The Marvin’s say the road has always been there and that it has been maintained as a road since the 1960s.

Cane knives are used to cut back hau bush, and crushed coral is dumped at the top of the road, Amy Marvin said.

She said the crushed coral is put into a pickup truck, then spread out by hand onto the road.

“We (spread) it ourselves. It is poured from the pickup truck,” said Marvin.

O’Hagan claims, in a lawsuit he filed over the same road, that the Marvin’s created the road in 2000, and that it was a footpath prior to that.

In an e-mail sent to The Garden Island, Marvin said the road was made in 1965 by Selmur Productions during the filming of Frank Sinatra’s movie, “None But the Brave.”

She said her family bought their land after the film was completed, and they did only routine maintenance on the road since that time.

In the e-mail, Marvin quoted from a 1995 book, “Made in Paradise.” Marvin wrote that the book included a short history about how the road was built. She said in the e-mail that a picture ran along with the story of how the road was built.

“Exteriors representing the South Sea island were filmed at Pila‘a Beach on Kaua‘i. It was an unspoiled coastline. A troupe of 150 worked four weeks at the location. The wrecked plane shown in the picture was a C-47 brought as surplus property by Sinatra and transported by barge and truck to the beach shooting location. The studio built roads from the high lava cliffs above to this set.”

In the e-mail, Marvin wrote that O’Hagan drove down the road many times in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s to visit, and for haircuts and dinner invitations.

She said recently that no permit was necessary to maintain the road, and that James Pflueger filed a complaint with the state Department of Health in 2004, alleging the Marvins had done illegal grading of the road.

“We received a complaint registered by Pflueger, that we had done illegal grading. We answered their questions, gave documentation from people who had brought us our coral, and then the DOH dropped it. They found no violations,” said Marvin.

Pflueger’s property manager Gordon Rosa said county engineers and the county’s Planning Department are still checking on it.

“There are other agencies involved,” said Rosa.

Rosa said what O’Hagan said about the road was correct.

“There would be no way the road could have been left wide open for the Marvins to use,” said Rosa.

He said it is common knowledge in the movie industry that movie companies shooting on location have to put the property back the same way they found it.

If they moved trees, they have to replant trees. If they put in a waterway, they have to take it out, said Rosa.

He said part of “Jurassic Park III” was shot at Pila‘a Beach. Equipment, props and bridges had to be removed after the filming was done.

“The movie companies, under their contracts, have to put back the property the way they received it. This is the rule for every movie site in the state of Hawai‘i,” said Rosa.

• Cynthia Kaneshiro, staff writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or ckaneshiro@kauaipubco.com.

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