North Shore residents voice concerns with mayor

HANALEI — Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. brought several of his staff and department heads to Hanalei last week to speak with North Shore residents about his Holo Holo 2020 initiative.

The Hale Halawai ‘Ohana ‘O Hanalei building was filled with more than 30 guests who had no shortage of questions for the administration. They emphasized concerns about controlled development, a north end voice in county government and the impact of tourism on their community.

“I am from here. I grew up here. I know what you’re talking about,” Carvalho said.

Holo Holo is a vision for citizens, residents, local business and government to share in an island plan for growth. The mayor said it must be inclusive and user-friendly to be responsible.

The county, state and federal projects completed so far include an expanded bus service on nights and weekends and a Safe Pass program for all students.

Planned North Shore projects include Ke‘e Beach Shuttle Service, Kilauea Agricultural Park, Kaiakea Fire Station green certification, increased renewable energy and support for Hawaiian Home projects.

Carvalho said he plans on putting county customer service kiosks in retail outlets to allow residents to do everything from obtaining camping permits to paying bills.

“This way you don’t have to come to Lihu‘e every time you need to do something,” Carvalho said.

Much of the discussion focused on the expansion of the Black Pot Park area to prevent automobiles from parking on the beach. It would also control venders operating without a permit.

They aren’t allowed there, Carvalho said, of the cars and vendors. It has been tolerated for too long and it is impacting the area, he added.

Some residents said this is positive while others were concerned it would hinder access to the beach.

The county is working to remove commercial operations along the river in an effort to control permit violations and return the land to the people. Representatives from the County Attorney’s Office spoke about the meticulous process of legally pulling permits from commercial violators. 

The restoration of the Hanalei Courthouse is under way following the resolution of ownership from the State Judiciary. The post-renovation must include community input to determine future plans, Carvalho said.

The community will have the option of having the county Parks and Recreation Department maintain the building for public use, or residents could allow the county to maintain it under the direction of full-time community management.

Kaua‘i Water Department Manager David Craddick said projects include a new well and tank in the Hanalei area. He said water currently comes from Princeville and is piped across the bridge.

One resident said it is good to have a new transfer station but that more should be done to make transitional residents and other guests aware so that more people are recycling.

Another resident said the Princeville ambulance is now in Kilauea. There is a big concern about response time in medical emergencies. Another concern was with limited police patrols.

Justin Kollar, the legal adviser for the Kaua‘i Police Department, said KPD is operating within a tight budget but Chief Darryl Perry is working on new beats for 2012.

Civil Defense was also a topic. Carvalho recently visited Japan and toured the tsunami and earthquake devastation. Residents asked about having cell phones added to the tsunami warning system and for tourists and others away from communications.

Elton Ushio, director of the Kaua‘i Civil Defense Agency, spoke on improving automation alerts and evacuation route markers leading to higher ground. He said that only land-based phones can be added to the tsunami warning system at present.

Planning Director Michael Dahilig responded to a concern about managed growth and what they felt were counterproductive building permits to hotels with no expiration dates. Dahilig said the permits are troublesome as inherited from previous administrations and run with the land.

We can’t stop growth but we can control it, the mayor said.

One resident said there were more people visiting here 20 years ago but they didn’t travel all over the island as they do today.

The tourists are getting themselves into dangerous areas, another attendee said, adding that the tourism board should do more to make people aware of local hazards and respect for local residents and culture.

Kipu Falls was closed to the public and that is one result of that concern, the mayor said.

One guest said that the county should do more to prevent overwhelming tourism in the small communities of the North Shore, noting the traffic and environmental impact.

“It’s not your fault, but you’re a part of it,” the resident said to the mayor.

“We don’t want to become another O‘ahu or Maui,” another person added.

One resident said the parking problem is deceiving. It gives the impression that places are filled up but there aren’t that many people. The mayor said he is working on parking issues and also to placing permanent bus shelters at all island stops, including Princeville, Hanalei and Kilauea.

• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or by emailing tlaventure@ thegardenisland.com.

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