Residents weigh in on $5M Black Pot Park plan

HANALEI — Preserving the character of a beloved beach and the need to plan ahead were both on the table at Thursday night’s meeting on Black Pot Beach Park.

The meeting was the last of three held since October 2015. The county’s Department of Parks and Recreation unveiled the final proposed layout for the Black Pot Beach Park Master Plan.

The preferred alternative plan includes 157 parking stalls with 60 overflow stalls, 18 boat-trailer parking stalls, 50-person camping, two comfort stations and 15 pavilions. The estimated cost is around $5 million.

The final decision on the park design rests with the county. The County Council would be in charge of approving the funding.

“If you don’t plan, you won’t have a facility in the future,” said Scott Ezer, principal planner with HHF Planners in Honolulu, who has been working on the project.

Beach parking was a main concern for many of the roughly 150 people at the meeting.

The project’s goal isn’t to take a stand on whether people should be able to park on the beach, Ezer said.

“The plan is neutral,” he said, “but there is an ongoing conversation about this issue between the County Council, Parks Department and the Mayor’s Office.”

The practice, which is cherished among some of those who have been using Black Pot Beach for generations, has been discussed at all three of the community meetings.

“I love parking on the beach. It is what we do here,” said Patty Irons.

Irons and several others pointed out the conveniences that come with parking on the beach — mainly easy access for families and for recreational activities.

“I can’t walk two blocks to get to the water,” Rayven Hockett said. “We need more considerations (in the plan) for handicapped people.”

But others want to prevent the beach from becoming overcrowded with vehicles and the hazards that can come with them.

“Remember that driving on the beach isn’t an entitlement, it’s a responsibility,” said Presley Wann. “I’m in support of this plan because it addresses the increase in tourists.”

That increase in visitors has raised some red flags about the plan with some residents as well.

“You want to have 217 parking spots,” said Kekane Pa. “That’ll fill up in less than two hours. Where the locals going to park?”

Pa said he’s also concerned about the removal of several ironwood trees from the area. “You going to put campers under the tree so you have to cut the tree down?” he asked. “Move the campers, not the tree.”

Impacts to the environment were mentioned, too, including the possibility of harming habitat for the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat and Koloa duck.

“I don’t agree with this plan for environmental reasons,” said Terry Lilley. “This is Koloa duck habitat. It’s critical habitat for several endangered species. This needs a habitat-protection plan.”

A 30-day comment period began Nov. 30 for the public to weigh in on the draft preferred alternative Black Pot Beach Master Plan. Once that’s completed, the draft plan will be finalized and a report in front of the County Council is tentatively set for the first quarter of 2017.

After additional tweaks that may occur from the County Council’s feedback, the final plan will be presented in the second quarter of 2017. The plan can be viewed at www.blackpotplan.com. Email comments to planblackpotbeachpark@hhf.com. Mail comments to HHF Planners, 733 Bishop St., Suite 2590, Honolulu, HI 96813.

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