Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023 |
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PRINCEVILLE — The worst part of driving on Ka Haku Road where it meets Wyllie Road, says Jeannette Miller, is trying to negotiate around all the potholes.
It requires a lot of going right, left, then back over and angling toward the center of the road or, depending on traffic, off to the side.
“It’s ridiculous,” she said. “Sometimes, you have to hit one of them.”
And her car, a Ford Escape, rides fairly high off the ground.
“If it was a lower car, it would be even worse,” Miller said. “Cars get torn up here.”
Miller was joined by about 75 others Sunday in a three-hour rally calling for developer Jeff Stone to fix the section of road for which they said he is responsible.
They waved to passersby, held signs and placed yellow ribbon across the road. Drivers, in return, often honked horns, shouted agreement and waved back.
The rally was slated for Sunday because it was reported that Stone is staying at The St. Regis Princeville Resort, which is at the road’s end.
Stone, who drove by the rally Sunday, said he found it a bit silly that a community of 3,000 wealthy people living in million-dollar homes is refusing to accept responsibility for a small piece of road.
Instead, he said, they elected to stand along that road, waving signs to try to embarrass him, and calling for him to pay for it.
“It’s really actually shameful,” he said.
Stone said he tried to turn the road over to a Princeville homeowners association when he bought the 9,000-acre Princeville Resort in 2005, but it refused.
“They didn’t want to take it because they didn’t want to pay for it,” he said.
Stone said that in 2013, the road was legally turned over to the homeowners association, but it has refused to accept responsibility for that small remnant part of Ka Haku Road, as well as refusing to accept $205,000 in a reserve fund for it.
Stone said he is owed $329,000 in road maintenance, fountain care and other landscaping costs over the past 10 years.
“We’ve done everything we can for this community and they are still not willing to pay their own maintenance bill,” he said.
As if to demonstrate the point of Sunday’s rally, many passing drivers navigated their vehicles slowly around the potholes, dips and cracks in the road.
Gregg Kravitz, Princeville resident and one of the rally organizers, said the residents just want Stone to repair the road.
“This particular intersection is an absolute public health hazard,” he said.
Unaware drivers hit the bumps and dips, bottoming out and scraping up their vehicle, Kravitz said.
He said people in cars often spill coffee and juice when passing through the area, while others drive on the grass and sidewalk to avoid it. Traffic is increasing in surrounding neighborhoods as drivers seek ways to circumvent the intersection.
“It’s a nightmare,” Kravitz said.
Stone is the founder of The Resort Group, which recently unveiled plans for a private 8,000-acre, 350-unit residential community that will be developed over the next decade in Princeville, with the Prince Golf Course as the centerpiece.
When finished, “Princeville at Hanalei” will have its own polo and beach clubs, lodge, nature trails, golf course, restaurants, airport, spa and more.
The Resort Group and its new partner Reignwood International, an investment firm owned by billionaire Thai-Chinese businessman Chanchai Ruayrungruang, plan to spend at least $500 million on the project.
The resort community will be managed by Discovery Land Company.
Kravitz said Stone has done great work elsewhere, so Princeville residents are calling on him to continue by fixing this section of road, “for the safety of the village.”
Jim Smith, president of the 42-unit Emmalani Court in Princeville, said he’s seen the road deteriorate since he became a resident in 1999.
When he heard about Stone’s development plans for Princeville, he requested the road be improved, but is still waiting on a response.
“Something needs to be done here,” Smith said.
Bob Doyle, Princeville resident and past president of the Princeville Hanalei Community Association, said they’ve been asking for years for the road to be fixed. He said the association would agree to maintain it once the road is repaired.
Doyle said the rally was made up primarily of residents of Princeville, which includes condominiums, timeshare units, residential homes and hotels.
“We’re afraid somebody is going to get hurt,” he said.
Ken Rosenthal said many people believe that section of the road is responsibility of the PHCA. It’s not, he said.
That’s why the main message was a request to Stone “to step up and fix the road.”
“That’s all we’re asking him to do,” said Rosenthal.
Jeannette Miller agreed.
“Fix what is yours, then we can maintain it,” Miller said. “It’s inappropriate to have a luxury hotel at the end of this road.”
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