Candidates walk path’s Phase III

WAILUA — Candidates for public office yesterday walked the 2.1-mile stretch of highway, sand and tall grass that will one day connect existing multi-use path sections at Lydgate Park and Kapa‘a’s Lihi Boat Ramp.

Thomas Noyes, secretary for Kaua‘i Path Inc., a volunteer-run advocacy group, organized the walk to open a dialogue on the project with policymakers.

Phase III will begin construction in 2009 and link the two stretches of path already in use.

The planned route spans the Wailua River and crosses Kuhio Highway and the temporary Kapa‘a bypass before weaving mauka of a Waipouli shopping center. It will then cross Kuhio Highway a second time and briefly share use of a private road, finally meeting the existing path at Lihi.

Other planned segments will eventually result in a continuous 16-mile path from Nawiliwili in the south to Anahola in the north, an ambitious project that has already inspired groups on the North Shore and Westside to begin talks regarding similar paths in their regions.

“It was interesting to see it, and wonderful to envision when it’s complete, how it could work,” mayoral candidate JoAnn Yukimura said. “Ending up at Lihi Park, we were all raving about how wonderful it was to spend the morning.”

Rival mayoral candidate Bernard Carvalho noted his familiarity with the path project as a county administrator. As the director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, Carvalho met regularly with Noyes and Public Works staff on the path’s progress.

“Through the task force effort and including as many people as possible to get the right information, we were able to do (Phase II), and now we’re already moving on (Phase III),” Carvalho said.

One challenge facing the Eastside shared-use path will be scarce funding from the county, state and federal governments.

“Given the budget situation, that’s a tough one,” state Rep. Mina Morita, D-District 14, said when asked how the state could contribute funds. “We have to be keenly aware of where the pots of money are and find partnerships so that the limited state resources available can be maximized.”

County Council candidates in attendance included incumbent Tim Bynum, who previously spent time working with the Friends of Lydgate Park and Kamalani Playground group. Bynum was singled out by Noyes for his support and led parts of the tour.

Council candidates Derek Kawakami, George Thronas Jr., Lani Kawahara and KipuKai Kuali‘i were also in attendance.

Phase I of Ke Ala Hele Makalae was completed in 2003 and features a 2.5-mile loop around Lydgate Park. Phase II, which stretches 2.3 miles from Lihi Boat Ramp to Kealia, opened earlier this year and includes an additional 1.8-mile segment from Kealia Beach to Ahihi Point that currently has limited public access.

• Michael Levine, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or via e-mail at mlevine@kauaipubco.com

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