Letters for Thursday, May 1, 2008

• Status of Koke‘e master plan

• Decisions of a few

• Making things right


Status of Koke‘e master plan

It is the calm before the storm. We must be ready to rally again at a moment’s notice to save Kokee and Waimea Canyon State Parks from being managed as a profit-center to fund DLNR’s statewide operations.

It has been over a year since our community spoke with one, very clear and articulate, voice in response to the DLNR’s proposals to commercialize Koke‘e and Waimea State Parks. (These proposals are contained in a 2004 Master Plan and a subsequent Draft EIS issued in 2006.) The DLNR received over 1,000 letters and e-mails from Kaua‘i residents as well as many from off-island Hawai‘i residents and visitors. Thousands of people signed petitions. The message: our precious Koke‘e is perfect just as it is.

We were initially told that a final revised Master Plan would come before the Board of Land and Natural Resources by December 2006. That date was postponed in part due to the extraordinary outcry from the community, continuing long after the Aug. 7, 2006, “cut-off” date for public input. The date for adoption of the revised master plan (which we still have never seen) has yet to be set.

In February of 2007, we, together with David Boynton, presented a Ho‘opono Community Master Plan for Koke‘e and Waimea Canyon parks to Peter Young, then-head of the DLNR, and Ron Agor, our Kaua‘i BLNR representative. We worked to make only those changes to the original master plan that would ensure that public use would never compromise the integrity of the mountain’s natural resources or its important cultural, spiritual and historic values. Many of DLNR’s original proposals (calling for maintenance and repair) were left in our community plan. However, we never heard from Young again. Later that spring, his reappointment was not confirmed; the new head of DLNR is Laura Theilen.

We forwarded the Ho‘opono Community Master Plan to Thielen and then met with her in early November 2007. She had not read it. To her credit, she is quite candid about her position with respect to Koke‘e and Waimea Canyon state parks. She believes that Koke‘e and Waimea Canyon must be commercialized to fund statewide DLNR activities.

Per Thielen, DLNR does not have adequate resources to pay for its statewide obligations and cannot count on the Legislature for funding. She expects the situation to worsen in the coming years. Therefore, Thielen’s position is that the best source of funding for DLNR activities is from our state parks — and currently Koke‘e is Hawai‘i’ s premier state park, and therefore the park with the greatest revenue-generation potential. Auwe.

In summary:

•Although the DLNR has stated that a “revised” master plan is complete, there has never been a revised version of the master plan or a final EIS made available for public review. We don’t yet know for certain what either will look like.

•Ron Agor, Kaua‘i’s Board of Land and Natural Resources representative, has stated that he has not been able to secure a copy of the revised master plan, though he understands that it was finished some time ago.

•Ron Agor has promised to provide us with a copy of the revised master plan as soon as he receives it and that he is able to set the date of the BLNR meeting at which this new master plan will be adopted.

•Ron Agor has also promised that the BLNR meeting to adopt the master plan will be set on Kaua‘i not earlier than three months after we receive a copy of the master plan.

•Based upon DLNR staff comments and our meeting with Theilen, we can expect that the final master plan will largely focus on revenue-generating proposals that, interestingly, also involve expenditure of enormous sums both upfront and over the long-term. These will be couched in terms such as “enhancing the user experience,” “meeting visitation levels,” “upgrades,” “improvements to better serve park visitors,” etc. The plan will likely include tearing down all existing buildings at the meadow to replace them with a “visitor’s center,” a new museum, a books and sundries gift shop, restaurant and other commercial ventures; permanent as well as truck and kiosk concessions at lookouts; a fee booth or entry station; lower elevation pull off area with restroom and parking lot at mile 4; and vague plans for increasing overnight accommodation.

Please check savekokee.org for on-going updates as we receive them.

Generations of Kaua‘i residents have hiked into the forests and along the trails of Koke‘e and Waimea, have gathered, have hunted, have fished, have nurtured their families, and have found spiritual connection and solace in this special place. As a community, we have consistently and urgently called upon the DLNR, the agency given the responsibility of holding our state parks in trust for the people of Hawai‘i, to protect our mountain from commercialization, to protect the fragile gifts the mountain contains into the distant future. Our state parks exist in a complex context of geography, biology, economics and politics; without ho‘opono, what was originally set aside for protection can be destroyed forever.

Nancy Budd, Margaret Ezekiel, Kehaulani Kekua, Kumu Hula-Halau Palaihiwa O Kaipuwai


Decisions of a few

On April 25, Kapa‘a High School held its Junior/Senior Prom at the Princeville Hotel. It was a gala event where students arrived dressed to impress and the locale was fashioned as a Hollywood premiere opening. Unfortunately, the decisions of a few ruined it for the majority as well as hurting Kapa‘a High School’s reputation in the community.

The administration of the school is enforcing the consequences for those who made poor decisions at the prom. Suspensions have occurred and those that needed to be arrested have been dealt with. Kapa‘a High School apologizes for any and all problems Princeville Resort encountered during the prom and will take note of what occurred to ensure that future school events end on a positive note instead.

The faculty and staff at Kapa‘a High School have worked really hard the past 10 years at improving the school as a whole. In the last three years we have strived to make the learning environment as positive as possible. We’ve established a school-wear policy for students, emphasized the importance of getting to class on time on a regular basis, and helping teachers teach from the beginning of the period to the end of the period every day. The faculty and staff are faced with challenges and problems on a daily basis with truancy, electronic devices (cell phones and iPods), drug issues, fights due to gossip and other teenage drama that occur at every and all schools nationwide, due to the decisions of a few.

What we need to focus on are the large numbers of students who do follow rules, are respectful, work hard, represent Kapa‘a in a positive manner and enter the professional world with the necessary tools and attitudes to contribute effectively to society, instead of the poor decisions of a few.

Kapa‘a High School administration


Making things right

What in the world is the letter writer’s malfunction (“The circus is coming to town,” Letters, April 30)?

Jimmy Torio’s Big Tent Kukakuka is a proactive approach to addressing some of the concerns in our community. It is a modern day and broader version of what was practiced here in Hawai‘i for hundreds of years called ho‘oponopono — to make things right.

Letter writer, you don’t like their efforts to help the community? How are you contributing to the betterment of the community? Please do share.

Better yet, I’m in Kekaha, it’s easy to find me and we can discuss issues in person.

Dominic Acain, Kekaha

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