HANAPEPE — There was a time when the island’s biggest little town was a bustling one.
At its peak, during the 1930s and World War II, soldiers from the Hanapepe Airfield area frequented the town, which offered a USO club, several bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and two roller-skating rinks.
Though many of the buildings in Hanapepe have not changed much since then, many of them now have different owners and house a wide range of stores.
Another aspect of the town that hasn’t changed much, some county and local business owners say, is Hanapepe Road, which is now on the county’s list of roads to be resurfaced.
But before that can happen, County of Kauai officials say they want to see how the road can be improved or redesigned to accommodate existing and future needs in the Westside town.
“This opportunity can be used to redesign Hanapepe Road to accommodate all users and support the community’s vision for Hanapepe Town,” County Transportation Planner Lee Steinmetz wrote in an email.
Beginning on Monday, county officials say they will hold four community workshops on three separate days to gather community input on what can accommodate all road users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit riders, people with disabilities and motorists.
“We’re very excited about working with the county and the designers on this,” Hanapepe Economic Alliance Treasurer Joanna Carolan said. “I think, on the whole, there has been a lot of positive feedback from alliance members.”
The workshops and any planned improvements, Steinmetz said, will be funded by the county, state Department of Transportation and Federal Highway administration. The county, he said, will pay 20 percent of the projects costs, while the other two state and federal agencies will pick up the remaining balance.
“The total project costs, including engineering and construction, are not known since we have not yet gone through the design process, which is the purpose of the workshop,” Steinmetz wrote in an email. “Once we have a design, engineering and construction costs will be estimated.”
Carolan, who owns Banana Patch Studios on Hanapepe Road, said she would like to see more Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalks and shade trees in the town to replace those that were uprooted during Hurricanes Iwa and Iniki.
“Both hurricanes took out a lot of the trees that were planted by the original merchants in town — there were some beautiful mango trees and we’ve lost a monkey pod tree, and those were big, old trees that made it more shady like Koloa town,” Carolan said. “It gets hot out there, and it’s nice, because we’re not on the main highway, to be able to stroll along the streets, so I think shade would really complement that and make it more walking friendly town.”
Little Fish Coffee Owner Ethan Page said he would like to see improvements in three specific areas: lighting, sidewalks and drainage.
Because his store is located at the historic main street entrance, near the intersection of Ko Road and the hillside walkway from Eleele Elementary School, Page said he occasionally sees people speeding down Hanapepe Road.
“The road is kind of narrow and you have a lot of people who speed around this corner, and when the doctor is busy and we’re busy, it kind of turn this area into a one-lane road, where you have big trucks sticking out,” Page said. “A lot of people fly down here in the mornings and the evenings because they’re not used to there being a lot of traffic.”
Installing adequate drainage systems, he said, should also be a priority, since muddy water and debris sporadically wash down Hanapepe Road and settle near the coffee shop and other stores nearby. Increased lighting, he added, would also be particularly helpful during the town’s weekly art night on main street.
The four community meetings below will be held at Hanapepe Congregational Church:
– Aug. 25, 9 to 10:30 a.m.
A walking audit will take place along portions of Hanapepe Road while discussing features, issues and concerns.
– Aug. 25, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Share your vision, goals, concerns and issues.
– Aug. 26, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Help create designs for Hanapepe Road based on the community shared visions and goals.
– Aug. 28, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Review refined concept designs for Hanapepe Road.