Ige: Be part of solutions

LIHUE — Education, affordable housing, infrastructure and sustainability were among the topics Gov. David Ige told The Garden Island are top priorities for Kauai.

“This has been a big session about education. It really is about making sure that our students have the opportunity to succeed in the 21st century,” Ige said. “That really requires different skills that each community (has) is different.”

Ige was among the dignitaries who attended the blessing ceremony for SolarCity’s and KIUC’s solar farm in Lihue Wednesday.

Making the state 100 percent reliant on renewable energy by 2045 and practicing methods of sustainability are initiatives Ige says are crucial.

Ige said part of the state’s sustainability plan is to manage the natural resources “from the mountain to the sea.”

“That really comes into play in a couple different areas,” he said. “It really is about protecting the watershed, the native forests that exist there because that’s where clean, fresh water begins and all the way down to the ocean.”

It’s about finding a balance with access and use with conservation and protection, he said.

“As you know, we are working to implement the community management plan out in Haena and trying to balance access to the ocean and protection of customary and traditional rights with just general use with just the general public,” he said.

Ige said working with the federal government ensures the protection of the ocean and its resources.

“As you know, we worked with the fishing community, especially here on Kauai, to make a sure that commercial fishers and local fishers were not impacted by the expansion of Papahanaumokuakea,” he said. “I think most importantly our effort has been how can we incorporate traditional management practices of Hawaiians and Native Hawaiians into how we steward the natural resources in the community.”

With the national divide in politics after the election of President Donald Trump, Ige encourages governors nationwide to take this opportunity to lead.

“We believe we have the knowledge and that it isn’t one size fits all in the entire country, and we believe the governors can be part of finding solutions to that for the president, for the Congress, for the nation,” he said.

Affordable housing continues to be a big issue in the state, especially Kauai, he said.

“We do have an aggressive housing plan to produce 10,000 housing units by 2020. We’ve been working with the developers, with the counties to see how we can coordinate a planning and infrastructure project to enable housing,” he said.

“We hope to see many more affordable housing projects here on Kauai as well as statewide,” Ige added.

With congestion becoming a problem in Kauai, Ige suggests a combination of more roads and more sustainable pathways would benefit the community.

He said the state needs to make investments in infrastructure. Traffic is a huge challenge and priority across the state.

He added: “But we need to support bike ways and opportunities to walk to create a live-work-play kind of community where people can live, have their job and shop and get everything they need in their community so that travel is reduced.”

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