More on Eastside pedestrian bridge

First, I am totally supportive of a bike path that is constructed in a sound manner, and is placed in a location that is rational and encourages safe use by everyone.

In February 1979, Waipouli Associates sought approval for an amendment from the county that permitted a change in zoning from Agricultural and Open District to Residential and General Commercial District which was granted. As a result of receiving this benefit, this development and the Foodland development and their successors were jointly required to design, build and perpetually maintain a pedestrian bridge across the canal between the two developments. The ordinance further required that detailed plans and the time frame to construct the bridge was to be submitted no later than June 30, 1980. As we know, the bridge was never built.

Since 1979, the developers continually came before the Council requesting for an extension and requesting additional benefits for zone amendments which were approved over and over and over again despite the failure of the developers to comply with the mandatory bridge condition.

On July 15, 1980, the developers requested an extension of three years from June 30, 1980 to May 10, 1983, claiming that they were unable to comply with the time constraints due to drainage problems. Their request was granted.

On Sept. 21, 1982, the developers requested a second extension of an additional three years from May 10, 1983 to May 10, 1986. Despite no reason being cited in the ordinance for a continuance, the extension was granted again.

On Oct. 18, 1984, the developers requested a third extension of two years to Jan. 29, 1987. Despite the fact that they had yet to produce a bridge, they shamelessly requested an additional benefit to approve another zoning amendment from Residential to General Commercial District. This request was passed by the Council however, on Dec. 18, 1984. Mayor Kunimura exercised his rarely used power and vetoed the Council’s approval. Despite his objections, the Council overrode his veto, and the extension of time to build the bridge and the valuable zoning amendment became law with no other conditions imposed on the developers.

On Nov. 25, 1986, the developers requested a fourth extension of over one year to May 10, 1988 and again it was granted and became law.

Before the expiration of this period, the planning department wrote a letter on Oct. 23, 1987 to Kauai Village Associates, the successors of Waipouli Associates reminding them that they must comply with the bridge condition and should they fail to do so within the time deadlines, their Class 4 zoning permit would be null and void.

Despite the strength of this language, on Feb. 16, 1988, the developers requested a fifth extension of six months to Nov. 10, 1988, which was approved. And again the bridge was not built.

Two months after the deadline had already passed, on Jan. 19, 1989, the Planning Department then sent a letter to Kauai Village Associates reminding them that the Planning Department had issued the project permits despite their failure to comply with the bridge condition and requested the status of the subject bridge. It was also at this time that Waipouli Town Center was seeking permits for its renovation of Foodland and thus Planning informed Waipouli Town Center that it would not sign off on their building permits until they complied with the bridge condition.

Despite it’s non-compliance with the bridge condition, and the fact that Planning agreed not to sign off until they complied with the bridge condition, on May 17, 1989, the permits for the renovation of Foodland were approved.

In April 1989, the state engineer with the Department of Transportation, informs the developer’s bridge consultants that it intends to widen the Uhelekawawa Bridge and states that the proposed pedestrian bridge should be built outside of the state’s right of way.

Nothing happens until approximately 12 years later in 2001, when the issue resurfaces due to the self-interest of the Kauai Village Associates who are now requesting deletion of the bridge condition because they could not get their final approval to consolidate and resubdivide their land until the bridge issue is resolved.

In 2002, nearly 700 residents sign a petition demanding construction of the pedestrian bridge and the Council denies the developers’ request to delete the condition.

A year later, in August 2003, an ordinance is passed that imposes another deadline of substantial construction of the bridge within a year and that the bridge be open to the public within two years, by Aug. 1, 2005. It further demands that if the deadline requirements are not met, the Planning Director and Commission shall enforce the penalties in the County Code.

In July 2004, Passco Companies buys Kauai Shopping Village from Kauai Village Associates for $26,900,000 and is well aware of the bridge requirement. Passco also states in September 2004 that assuming they obtain approval from the DOT, it is confident of their ability to meet the completion deadline of Aug. 1, 2005.

Despite this confirmation, on June 30, 2005, it requests another extension of two years just to obtain permits and proposes a settlement of a mere $110,000 in escrow towards building of a bike path, in lieu of deleting the bridge condition.

On Sept. 13, 2005, at a Planning Commission meeting regarding the bridge condition, numerous people testify and demand compliance and penalties.

Passco Companies has admitted publicly that they are in violation of the ordinance and have failed to build the bridge.

On Jan. 26, 2006, Passco announces via The Garden Island, that it has Kauai Shopping Village up for sale.

At the Council meeting on May 3, 2006, they propose to jointly work with the County to build a pedestrian accessway, that would qualify for the 80 percent match of federal funds for the bike path. It is there also that Donald Fujimoto, county engineer reveals that the cost of the bridge which showed up on paper at $381,571 had now gone up astronomically to an estimate of $581,572 and that the developers need an environmental assessment before any construction of the bridge can take place. While the County has done an environmental assessment for the bike path, the developers have not and would benefit greatly in time from the use of the County’s assessment. Further, the developers propose that after building the bridge, they want to dedicate it to the County to maintain, thus relieving them of their requirement to maintain the cost of the bridge, forever. Remember how much it cost us to do Olohena Bridge — $4.1 million.

The proposal however, that shocks me the most is that the developers are shameless once again in charging us to pay them $86,400 for an easement alongside the canal to continue the bridge path. This is despite their non-compliance in building the pedestrian accessway for 26 years.

I reiterate my position that I totally support the coastal bike path but when it is used as a pretext to accommodate yet another one of the developer’s demands, it would be against good planning, public policy and conscience to accede. I am extremely interested in obtaining federal matching funds for our coastal bike path however, unless realistic proposals are made by the developer, other revenue sources need to be sought.

The building of the “coastal” bike path which the Administration referred to as the “preferred route” that crosses the street from the Sea Shell restaurant and goes mauka through Waipouli Shopping Center and through the thoroughfare between McDonalds drive through Pizza Hut, then down alongside Kuhio Highway is totally against the purpose of what the bike path was intended to be. The bike path was intended to be a “lei around the island,” to protect and preserve beach access in perpetuity. Clearly this purpose is not achieved when the route is not alongside the coast, goes into the heart of congestion, is totally unsafe, and will deter instead of encourage usage given the ridiculous traffic conditions that currently exist.

We need to hold these developers to their fair share, make them build the bridge and maintain it in perpetuity. Too many times the people get the short end of the stick. It’s a crime that we’ve had to endure all these empty promises and witness zero consequences for violations.

• Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho is a Kauai County Council member.


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