Disabled camp sites may be reality

The Kaua‘i County Council Parks and Recreation Committee has begun scrutinizing a bill to establish fee-based overnight camping at Lydgate Park in Wailua.

If the proposal becomes law, the campground would be a first on Kaua‘i, if not the state, offering upgraded amenities.

Residents and visitors would be able to camp overnight at 31 campsites, including three that would meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, at the East Kaua‘i park, officials said last week.

“I am looking to open the campgrounds, which are part of Lydgate Park improvements,” said Tim Bynum, who chairs the council committee. “We need good recreational opportunities that local families can afford.”

The committee deferred action on the proposal until April 18, to give the county administration more time to study it.

The committee also deferred the matter to receive comments from the county’s Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund Commission.

Mayor Bryan Baptiste had initially introduced the proposal in late 2005, but it languished — due to what Bynum said were questions about security for the project and compliance with ADA requirements.

But Bynum said he hopes the council will now move forward because “we have sufficiently answered those questions.”

“The council, the administration and the county have been working to resolve these issues,” Bynum said.

Bynum is a past general coordinator for the Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park, an organization that developed a master plan in 1999 that includes the camping project.

The project includes 28 campsites, with three campsites that meet ADA requirements, some camp pads measuring 20 feet by 20 feet and some pads measuring 10 feet by 10 feet, a picnic table at each campsite and structures for barbecues, according to Thomas Noyes, the current general coordinator for Friends.

Another part of the project is the Kamalani Pavilion, which is intended for overnight camping and can be reserved for a fee, Noyes said.

“There is an open grassy field to set up overnight tents,” he said. “The pavilion can be used for recreational and educational programs and meals.”

Also built for the camping project is a comfort station/administrative building and a maintenance building, Noyes said.

The Kamalani pavilion and an adjacent structure were primarily built by the community, while the campsites were built through contract labor, Noyes said.

The camping structures were built with parts of a $2.5 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration that was administered by the county, Noyes said.

Some 80 percent of the cost to develop the structures for the camping plan came from the federal agency, and the county’s 20 percent match. Approved by the federal government, the funding was tied to the building of the Kamalani Kai Bridge by the community, with support and cooperation from state and county agencies, Noyes said.

Bynum said he would like to see implementation of affordable fees to benefit residents. “I would like to see a $15 fee per site for kama‘aina and a $30 fee for visitors,” he said.

Surplus lumber after the building of the Kamalani Kai Bridge was used to build the wooden frames of the 28 campsites and the Kamalani Pavilion.

The pavilion burned down recently, but plans call for it to be rebuilt, Noyes said.

In 1999, the master plan for Lydgate Park was created based on community input and includes a pedestrian and bicycle path, protection of public access to fishing sites, three sport fields, the overnight camping project and an office for a campsite supervisor.

All the projects or proposals have either been built or are being implemented, Noyes said.

Portions of the $2.5 million were used to build the pathway, one comfort station and administrative office and maintenance building, Noyes said. All the work was monitored by Public Works official Doug Haigh.

The three sports fields being built were funded with an $875,000 grant from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation and $450,000 in county funds, Noyes said.

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