Who’s going to clean up this mess?

NAWILIWILI — State and federal officials are trying to determine who is responsible for cleaning up areas around Ninini Point Lighthouse, which has been blighted by a pair of stripped, abandoned cars and other discarded trash for several months.

“I know it’s a concern,” said Chief Seth Carter, officer in charge of the U.S. Coast Guard Station Kauai. “We did get some complaints about a year ago through e-mail and I sent it on to our Oahu office, but I’m not sure what the resolution was.”

At least part of the issue may lie with a simple, yet complex question: What state, federal or county agencies maintain various portions of Ninini Point?

Because of its close proximity to Lihue Airport, Ninini Point itself falls under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Transportation’s Airports Division, state Department of Land and Natural Resources spokeswoman Deborah Ward wrote in an email.

Ninini Point Lighthouse and the immediate area, meanwhile, falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard, Ward said.

County of Kauai spokeswoman Mary Daubert said the county also maintains certain areas around Ninini Point.

County Planning Department officials, however, inspected an area near the lighthouse, where a stripped down van and truck have sat in a grassy area near the end of Ninini Point Street, and determined that it was outside the county’s jurisdiction.

The mess includes old van seats, a table, clothes, food containers and other trash. The van was being lived in for a time last year, with the people setting up several tarps for cover. The truck, which was brought in after the van, has been stripped of many parts.

The area isn’t easily accessed. One must wind their way through the road of the Kauai Lagoons golf course and then take a dirt road that runs parallel to the Lihue Airport fence to get there. Still, it’s frequented by locals and visitors, who have noticed the mini-junkyard within a short walk of the Ninini Point Lighthouse.

“I kind of surprised no one has cleaned it up,” said Matt Atkinson, on vacation from California, who took a walk Saturday morning to the lighthouse. “It looks like it’s been there awhile.”

U.S. Coast Guard officials, Carter said, service the light atop the Ninini Point Lighthouse but explained that the lighthouse itself is primarily used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“I’m not quite sure where the boundary is, but it’s not the Nawiliwili station that takes care of that area — it’s a station in Oahu,” Carter explained. “They fly over and service that area.”

Calls and emails to the U.S. Coast Guard office on Oahu were not returned before press time.

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Darin Moriki, county government reporter, can be reached at 245-0428 or dmoriki@thegardenisland.com. Follow him on Twitter at @darinmoriki.

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