Parking is key to Black Pot’s future

Black Pot Beach is popular. Too popular. For good reason.

The 5.5-acre county park on the eastern end of Hanalei Bay is a jewel, nestled in a gorgeous setting. It has much to offer — pavilions, picnic tables and weekend camping access. It has restroom and showers. It’s a favorite of surfers, swimmers, paddlers, kayakers, boaters, fishermen, campers, picnickers and tailgaters. It’s one of the greatest places in the world to watch a sunset.

It also is targeted for change.

The Department of Parks and Recreation is leading a public planning effort to develop a master plan for the future expansion of Black Pot Beach Park, which has been designated by the county to be in “high need” of expansion.

A key issue, as everyone knows, is parking.

On a busy day, anywhere from 150 to 180 cars are parked on the beach. It can be crowded, hectic, maddening, with trucks and SUV and compacts all vying for beach spots. While using a beach for a parking lot certainly doesn’t seem like a great idea, that’s something that’s near and dear to the hearts of locals. They don’t want to lose those parking places because there just aren’t many other places to park. That’s the problem with a popular park but limited parking. The beach is convenient for all the surfers and swimmers and paddlers and those just looking to hang out for the day. If beach parking, for whatever reason — environmental, aesthetics, monetary — is banned, well, that would upset many people.

During Tuesday’s meeting on the Black Park expansion plan, many made it clear they don’t want the parking changed. Leave it alone. Go ahead and improve the park, the restrooms, the picnic tables. But beach parking must stay. Not hard to understand why. There are few other places to park. Surfers and paddleboarders love the convenience of beach parking. It is, as one person said, a way of life for many. Imagine the hostile confrontations that would occur over so few parking spots. It could create more ill will between visitors and residents.

Park expansion would be good. Beach parking, as it is today, should continue to be part of those expansion plans. At this point, it can’t be taken away. Many people would be very, very upset and it could get ugly.

But addition parking is needed, as well, and the expansion plan should call for it. Beach parking can’t be good for the marine environment, not with all the oil and coolants and even gas that likely leaks into the sand. There must be a better way.

One plan for the park includes one main turn around/drop-off area near the park entry and a small campers’ drop-off area near Weke Ramp. It also includes three bathrooms, two camping areas, a separate kayak/small vessel launch ramp at Weke Ramp, 134 parking spaces, and 16 boat trailer parking spaces.

The second plan maintains the existing gateway, provides for two bathrooms and one camping area, a separate kayak/small vessel launch, 158 parking spaces, 14 boat spaces and a new boat ramp.

Both plans provide for 80 overflow parking spaces and require the removal of the ironwood trees on the beachfront, replacing them with palms. Overflow parking is critical to have to avoid too many vehicles packed onto the beach. No one wants to have an attendant controlling entrance and exit at Black Pot, like a parking garage.

Be sure to offer your input. The The goals of the master plan, as one person said, are to improve the management of the land and the resources and improve the experience for all users and user safety.

The County of Kauai Parks and Recreation Department is accepting comments on the project in a variety of ways until Aug. 31.

Email comments and questions to PlanBlackPotBeachPark@hhf.com and get more information, as well as view the plans for the two development options at blackpotplan.com or on Facebook.

Written comments can be sent to HFF Planners 733 Bishop Street, Suite 2590 Honolulu, HI 96813.

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