Kokee master plan trickles back to advisory council

LIHUE — The Kokee State Park Advisory Council will take another month or so to review the state’s master plan for Kokee and Waimea Canyon state parks before it makes a decision.

Over the last decade, the plan has slowly moved from revenue generation and commercialization toward more preservation and protection, according to members of the council.

Now, KSPAC has the final plan in hand.

But it needs more time to digest it.

“It is a quite lengthy document, and we simply have not had sufficient time to read and assess it all, prior to sending it on to the (Board of Land and Natural Resources) for their approval,” said Erik Coopersmith, a five-year member of the KSPAC.

 While the plan hardly resembles the original, it still contains controversial proposals, including an entry station to collect non-resident user fees.

In September, the KSPAC adopted a final report on the plan from its Permitted Interaction Group — an investigative committee created in June to review important chapters of the plan — and opted not to support the entry station.

Since then, DLNR planner Lauren Tanaka has been revising and finalizing the plan, which was transmitted to KSPAC earlier this week.

“I didn’t send it until a few days ago,” she said, adding that no significant changes have been made since KSPAC’s meeting in September.

Tanaka said two major issues remain unresolved.

The first is the entry station, which includes a 100-square-foot gated booth for collecting fees from non-residents only, as well as a 500-square-foot roadside support building.

While the KSPAC has asked the DLNR to remove it from the plan, the state is set on having it.

“The board approved the entry station several years ago,” Tanaka said. “We need to have that entry station in there no matter what.”

Where it will go is still to be decided.

The proposed preferred location for an entry station is in the vicinity of mile marker 6.9, north of the junction of Waimea Canyon Drive and Kokee Road, Tanaka said.

“The location is strategic in that it will allow us to monitor the buses and collect fees from visitors who only go to Waimea Canyon Lookout. Another location, at the Kokee State Park boundary, may also be considered as an option,” she said.

Coopersmith said the PIG will be charged with reviewing the final document over the next several weeks.

“Too much time and community input has been involved in this process, and the end result is too important to rush to the finish line just to get it done,” he said.

Although not yet confirmed, the meeting will likely be rescheduled for Dec. 17, according to Buza-Sims. Members of the PIG include Coopersmith, Chipper Wichman, Katie Cassel and ex-officio member Michelle Clark.

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