If you want to see the legacy of Tim Bynum, visit Lydgate Park.
Lydgate is the crown jewel of parks of Kauai. It’s perfect for a day at the beach. Great for picnics. Wonderful for a nice walk. Ideal for playing games. Terrific for meeting friends and family gathering and barbecues.
Tim Bynum, who passed away Friday due to cancer at the age of 62, had a hand in how Lydgate Park looks today. A large hand. He was a driving force behind the Friends of Kamalani that led to two keiki playgrounds. That nice paved path you see? Yep, he helped make it happen. Just look around and you’ll see the influence of the former councilman who served Kauai from 2006 to 2014.
Notice there are no plastic bags used at stores? Bynum authored the Plastic Bag Reduction and Prohibition Law, which bans the use of plastic bags at checkout counters.
Streets? He pushed for space and safety for pedestrians and bicyclists and better roads for vehicles.
Few can match Bynum’s dedication and commitment.
Bynum, if you got a chance to meet him, was a friendly man. He was a big man. He smiled often. During the many cleanups at Morgan’s Pond and the beach, Bynum was often right in the midst of things. He wanted to leave places better than he found them. He was not the kind of man to stand by and accept the status quo. If he believed things could be done better, safer, smarter, then he led the way.
When The Garden Island began calling people Saturday for comments about Bynum, people had good things to say. Lots of good things. Here are a few of those comments we published in an A1, top story on Sunday:
w “He always put integrity and the pursuit of justice ahead of all other considerations.” — Gary Hooser
w “He inspired our generation to act and to be politically involved. For that, I am forever grateful.” — Fern Rosenthiel
w “He served the people of Kauai with compassion and foresight.” — Janice Bond
w “Tim was such a kind, warm-hearted person.” — Felicia Cowden
w “He truly cared about our island and was a great family man.” — Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr.
Sometimes, it’s not easy to get more than a few people to pay a compliment to someone. When it came to Tim Bynum, people couldn’t say enough.
So, you ask, if he was so loved, why wasn’t he reelected in 2014? Why didn’t voters support him and put him back in office?
Some say it goes back to Bill 2491, which Bynum introduced with Councilman Gary Hooser. It required mandatory disclosure of pesticide and GMO use by large commercial agricultural entities and required a buffer zone around schools, hospitals and other sensitive areas. It also prohibited open-air testing of experimental pesticides and experimental GMOs.
The bill — after a long, legal dispute — ultimately fell short when a federal judge recently ruled that three Hawaii counties can’t enact their own bans or regulations on genetically modified crops and pesticides, handing a victory to the major agriculture companies that fought the regulations.
Circuit Judge Consuelo M. Callahan upheld a lower court’s decision that said Hawaii law prohibits counties from regulating agricultural matters.
Some believe Bill 2491 was the start of a major division on Kauai from which it still hasn’t recovered. They say it put Hawaiians against big agriculture, a fight they didn’t want or need. Certainly, it didn’t result in the way Bynum hoped. And what was it Bynum sought? Why did he put his political career on the line for a bill he knew faced a fight, certainly a rough road?
Bynum realized how important this was.
“We’re talking about people’s lives, people’s livelihoods,” he said at the time.
Tim Bynum didn’t have a hidden agenda. His desire, throughout his years on the council and as a resident, was to create a healthier, safer Kauai. He didn’t always succeed. He wasn’t always right. He didn’t always know best.
But those who knew him will tell you, his heart belonged to Kauai.