Wednesday, July 6, 2022 |
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LIHU‘E — Many agree that the island is in dire need of a drug treatment center for teens — as long as it’s not in their backyard.
Almost 400 signatures opposing the county’s two selected sites for the proposed Adolescent Drug Treatment Center disrupted the center’s siting meeting, Thursday at the Lihu‘e Neighborhood Center.
Mary Pigao, who earlier in the afternoon led a sign-waving campaign against the ADTC being located in the proposed sites, presented the petitions to Theresa Koki, the county’s anti-drug coordinator.
“We wanted to give the petitions to the mayor, but we never got a call back from his office,” Pigao said. “We’re presenting these petitions containing 379 names opposing both proposed sites.”
The meeting’s agenda called for a project timeline by Koki, as well as outlining the daily routine of an adolescent in a residential treatment facility.
“It’s important to get input,” Koki said. “It will take between four and five years following the site determination before construction starts on any buildings.”
Koki’s statement did not deter residents of Isenberg Tracts and Kaua‘i Gardens neighborhoods from demonstrating their disagreement with the selections.
Certified substance abuse counselor Mardi Maione said, “There is definitely a need for a treatment center. The timeline is four or five years from the time a site is selected. That is four or five years to understand, to work together and talk. We need to have a place to help stop this.”
Pigao, whose home is located within a stone’s throw of both proposed sites, said the petitions which were circulated were not against having a drug treatment facility.
“Kaua‘i is in need for a residential treatment center,” Mary said. “But we’re not in favor of locating it in any residential area, especially in the Isenberg area.”
The 3 p.m. meeting started with about 40 people in attendance. As the meeting progressed, more people turned out as they got out of work.
Dean Pigao, retired from the Kaua‘i Police Department after 25 years, said, “In talking to people, we’re not opposed to the facility, we just oppose the sites. We’re saying, ‘Things happen.’ I don’t want to be a victim. I don’t want my family to be a victim. I don’t want my neighbors to be victims.”
Residents offered alternate sites in lieu of the proposed sites, suggesting a location in Kipu near the Kaua‘i Humane Society. Others suggested the vacant land near the Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center, or land near the U Turn for Christ facility in Kapa‘a.
County spokeswoman Beth Tokioka was in attendance, along with Managing Director Gary Heu and Executive Assistant John Isobe.
“We are very appreciative of the honest and open feedback from the community, both for and against the two proposed sites,” Tokioka said in an e-mail. “We are absolutely listening to the residents and are hoping to have more dialog going forward where we can specifically address their questions and concerns about security, operations and location, and see if we can come to a point of consensus.”
Koki said no date has been set for a future meeting because Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. has just returned from a trip to Philippines. The date for next meeting will be set after she has had an opportunity to discuss it with Carvalho, Koki said.
“We will make an effort to publicize future meetings much better than we have the first two, so all who want to can participate,” Tokioka said.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or email@example.com.
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