Letters for Tuesday, July 1, 2008

• Keep the ‘Iron Bridge’

• I’ll miss you, mayor

• Attention appreciated

Keep the ‘Iron Bridge’

The Wailua-Kapa‘a Neighborhood Association is alarmed to learn about the impending destruction of the ‘Opaeka‘a Bridge in Wailua Homesteads, which many of us know as the “Iron Bridge.”

It was constructed in 1890, the last year of King David Kalakaua’s reign, and it symbolizes the close ties that existed between the Hawaiian monarchy and Great Britain. Today the ‘Opaeka‘a Bridge remains the only known British-made truss bridge in the entire United States.

The bridge was originally built as the first permanent structure over the Wailua River. When a new, larger bridge was needed there in 1919, the old trusses were recycled and were used to create stream crossings for the farmers in the newly settled Wailua Homesteads.

The importance of this bridge in Kaua‘i’s history is evidenced by its designation on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Unfortunately, years of “deferred maintenance” and neglect have caused the bridge to deteriorate, which has compromised the structure.

The W-KNA understands that action must be taken. We who live in the area are as dedicated to safety as are our county officials.

We are not convinced, however, that this bridge’s total destruction and replacement is the only choice open to the county.

This bridge should not be demolished before every alternative for conservation is considered. A structural engineer with qualifications in both preservation issues and the new technologies available should be hired to assess the bridge.

Too much is changing too fast on Kaua‘i. The historic value of this bridge is irreplaceable. Its beauty, charm and sense of place are important values to this rural neighborhood.

We ask that the Public Works Department refrain from altering ‘Opaeka‘a Bridge until every option to retain this historic resource has been explored and discussed with the community.

Rayne Regush, board chair

Wailua-Kapa‘a Neighborhood Association

I’ll miss you, mayor

Editor’s note: This letter was submitted on June 26.

It is with a very heavy heart that I write this letter to the editor. I am here in California with my son for some football camps, enjoying some father-son time. When I received the call of the mayor’s passing, I could not believe it. As a matter of fact, I still cannot believe it. I am sitting here in the lobby of my hotel thinking about a discussion I had with the mayor just a couple of weeks ago. He seemed to be doing just fine.

Although many people felt that the mayor and I never got along, we were pretty good friends. Personally, we had a lot of fun together. Professionally, it was a different story. Politics can get ugly, but no matter how ugly it got, the Mayor and I always took the time to poke fun at each other. Whether in his office, the council office, or at public functions, we always made each other laugh. If any of you ever sat at our table for a dinner function, you know what I’m talking about. Most people never witnessed this side of our relationship.

The family history between the mayor and I go a long way. He always reminded me of that, and so did my mother. Mayor Baptiste was on a mission to make Kaua‘i a better place. There are not too many people that loved Kaua‘i more than he did. He will be missed dearly.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loving wife Annette and their four children Brandon, Heather, Lauren and Preston. Here is a poem written by John Taylor that I would like to share:

Our thoughts and prayers are with you

Although it’s difficult today to see beyond the sorrow,

may looking back in memory help comfort you tomorrow

May your heart and soul find peace and comfort.

May the blessings of love be upon you,

May its peace abide with you,

May its essence illuminate your heart,

Now and forever more


Hold tight to memories for comfort, lean on your friends for strength, and always remember how much you are cared about.

We pray the love of God enfolds you during your difficult times and he helps you heal with the passage of time.

May the love of those around you help you through the days ahead.

Please accept our most heartfelt sympathies for your loss.

Our thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.

Our hearts go out to you in your time of sorrow.

While we are mourning the loss of our friend, others are rejoicing to meet him behind the veil.

Mayor Bryan Baptiste, may you rest in peace.

Mel Rapozo


Attention appreciated

In response to councilwoman Shaylene Iseri-Carvahlo’s absence at the County Council hearing on proposed “dog” amendments:

I attended the first public hearing and also noticed her sudden departure after roll call. Perhaps a good time to explain your departure would have been when they announced Ron Kouchi and JoAnn Yukimura were excused and would not be present.

How would it be if the remaining council members were also to leave the room and multi-task in their offices during scheduled public hearings?

I personally e-mailed the council after said meeting and received no explanation or response as to your absence.

I feel it’s important to thank the council members who were present and attentive to what anyone who has attended a council meeting knows can be long, tedious and trying. Irregardless of their views it goes without saying that their attention and input was appreciated by the community who cares about this issue.

Also I’d like to thank the great people of Kaua‘i for their investigative, (a professional poll was taken and prepared), professional (many veterinary) and thoughtfully heartfelt testimony. Many of whom had to take time off work to attend.

Laurel Baldridge



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