LIHU‘E — Seven years later and the county has yet to issue a single permit for the campsites it built for residents and visitors at Lydgate Park.
Legislation to change this reality has returned to the Kaua‘i County Council’s agenda, but the seven-member lawmaking body deferred decision-making again last week.
Parks and Recreation Director Lenny Rapozo told the Kaua‘i County Council at its June 29 meeting that camping at the Wailua park should be open by mid-August. However, the bill required to make this happen will sit in the Parks and Recreation Committee for at least another two weeks.
Rapozo on Tuesday sent Council Chair Jay Furfaro a request to defer the issue on Wednesday’s committee meeting agenda because Committee Chair Tim Bynum and Vice Chair Mel Rapozo would be absent. Both were out for personal reasons.
The committee will likely take up the issue again on July 27.
If Bill 2149, Draft 2, passes in its current form, residents will pay a $5-per-day fee per campsite. Non-residents will pay a $25-per-day fee per campsite.
There are 32 campsites at the Lydgate Beach Park complex; three of them are fully compatible with ADA requirements. All campsites are on the south portion of the park, near Kamalani Playground.
If the bill passes committee, it will go to full council for approval. The bill was first introduced in 2005. June 29 — when the bill was amended to include the fees — marked the first time the issue has been heard since 2009.
Self-described “nitpicker” Glenn Mickens was the sole resident to testify at Wednesday’s meeting.
“One of the biggest questions asked in September of 2005 when this bill was first introduced by (former Councilwoman) Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho — and still never answered — was what study was ever done to show that the majority of people on Kaua‘i want or need these campgrounds in Lydgate Park,” he said.
Mickens asked the council for its “due diligence” in finding out what the cost of the project would be and if the county could afford it. All the costs associated with the camping area, including possibly two caretakers and security, should be factored in before the council approves it, he said.
Mickens said he volunteered at the park for three years, and has “some knowledge” of what the park needs.
“It is a beautiful park when properly maintained for picnicking, swimming, playing and now for soccer,” he said. “But when these events are all going on at the same time the area is maxed out and certainly doesn’t need campers to exacerbate the problems.”
Mickens said the late Mayor Eduardo Malapit shut down camping at Lydgate Park more than 20 years ago because of drug use and a murder. Malapit served as the mayor from 1974 to 1982.
“Drugs are more prevalent today than they were then, so why duplicate a mistake?” he said.
Mickens also provided a letter from Iseri-Carvalho, dated Jan. 20, 2006, to then Offices of Community Assistance Director Bernard Carvalho Jr., containing a set of 11 questions. Many of those questions were related to compliance with ADA requirements, which Bynum on June 29 said have since been met.
One of the questions raised concerns regarding verification from the state Department of Health that the amount of bathroom facilities is adequate. Another pending question asks the County Attorney’s position on the legality of hiring private security for the park.
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• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or lazambuja@ thegardenisland.com.