Letters for Wednesday, September 14, 2011

• Bike routes not safe • Don’t punish all farmers • Take some

pride in low-income housing

Bike routes not safe

I am getting so tired of certain people talking about the “existing bike routes” on Kaua‘i’s roads. It is a sick joke that has long outlived its humor. Glenn Mickens  (“Don’t stymie drivers,” Letters, Sept. 12) brings this issue up once again in an attempt to discredit the views of anyone suggesting that alternatives to vehicular transportation need to be considered in a serious fashion.

Apparently, in Mr. Mickens world, one need only put down a stretch of pavement and erect a sign saying “Bike Route” for people to flock to its use. What appears to escape him is a simple fact that anyone who cares about the truth of the situation can easily discern simply by looking at one of these routes — they are not safe to use.

If you drive down Kuhio Highway, not only do you have highway traffic whizzing by at more than 40 miles per hour, with no protection for anyone who might wish to use the “bike route,” but you frequently have complete idiots driving in that same space, completely against the law, and without a care in the world because, as we all must surely know by now, laws aren’t actually enforced in Mayberry.

Mr. Mickens is so enamored with his vehicle, that I half expect him to end one of his letters by riffing on Charlton Heston — you’ll take my car from me when you rip my cold dead hands from the steering wheel.

Nobody is taking your vehicle from you, though I believe there will come a time when you won’t be able to afford the fuel for it. Planning for and setting up alternative modes of transportation makes for sensible public policy that leads to sustainable communities, which serve the needs of all constituents, Mr. Mickens — not just those who insist on driving to the market, which is only a two-minute walk from their home.

While the car culture is certainly strong here, I am absolutely certain that if people are given other viable alternatives, which were convenient and cost effective, they would use them.

Please stop being a dinosaur on this issue and try to think outside of your crash-tested, dual-side airbag, antilock brakes, seating for five, gajillion cup holders, ample cargo space box.

Michael Mann, Lihu‘e

Don’t punish all farmers

So let’s see if I understand this. Someone decides to illegally connect an irrigation water line into a county water line and a problem occurs when the irrigation water backs up into the county water system, thereby contaminating the county supply for a short period of time from that source down-line. To my knowledge, this is the first time this has occurred to this extent, and it occurred because someone did something they were not supposed to do. This one person broke the law. 

So what does the county do? They punish every farmer and agriculture operation on the island to the tune of requiring them to install an expensive back-flow device on their water pipe. Agriculture is the one small business on this Island our government should be bending over backward to help survive and prosper. So they do just the opposite.

“We want to assure our customers that we have taken immediate action to mitigate the chances of similar incidents from occurring again,” Deputy Manager-Engineer William Eddy said in the Water Department release.

Their “immediate action” is to fine every small farmer and struggling ag water user on Kaua‘i $2,000 or more by requiring they buy and have a qualified plumber install a back flow preventer. Make every ag water user, regardless of whether they have no illegal irrigation hook up to the county water system, pay for something they don’t need unless they break the law. Now that takes imagination.

So in he midst of an onslaught of agricultural competition from the Mainland and around the world, and just when our farmers and ag users are down and struggling to stay alive, our county fathers in their wisdom and decides the solution to the problem is to make our farming and agricultural businesses much more difficult and costly.   

When a county, state or government employee really have the expertise to make that decision for our citizens and hard working small agricultural businesses? Would they make the same decision if they were that small farmer struggling to survive?

What should they have done? How about a more severe punishment for those who would cause the illegal problem in the first place as a larger deterrent? How about the county footing the bill for protecting their own water supply from their surplus? How about giving our ag users tax credits or future water credits to make the huge expense neutral to our farmers?

Of course, solutions like this take leadership, economic wisdom and a grander vision. So who in our county government is going to step up? We shall see. 

Gordon Oswald, Kapa‘a

Take some pride in low-income housing

Our low-income housing project in ‘Ele‘ele off of Kaumuali‘i Highway is looking very run down. The fence is broken in some sections. The homes need painting and the roofs need cleaning (looks dirty and oily).

When will the state put up some money to give the project a fresh look? The Koloa low-income housing project got a whole new facelift and it looks great.

The state needs to take some pride and do the repairs needed on the Westside projects — especially the ‘Ele‘ele project. It’s just off the Kaumuali‘i Highway and it is an eye sore and an embarrassment.

Howard Tolbe, ‘Ele‘ele

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