Hanakapi‘ai, Haena plans to be discussed

HANALEI — The state’s planned 4-foot-wide aluminum pedestrian bridge over Hanakapiai Stream on Kauai’s North Shore is up for discussion — a community meeting will be held Tuesday in Hanalei.

State representatives will be discussing the proposed bridge, as well as the proposed master plan for Haena State Park, which includes controlling entry to the park and capping daily visitors at 900.

That initial number includes day hikers on the Kalalau Trail but does not include overnight campers or hunters with valid permits, members of the Hui, cemetery caretakers, kupuna who have cultural or ancestral ties to the area, or attendees at special educational or cultural events such as volunteer workdays or events at the Hula Complex, according to the management plan.

A few new structures are proposed for Haena State Park, according to the master plan, including a welcome hale and extra restrooms.

The current parking lot, which is located just before Ke’e Beach, will be paved with a permeable paving and marked with 100 stalls. It will also be moved slightly to avoid rockfall, according to the plan.

“The idea is to accommodate local demand, complement shuttle volume, and minimize parking impacts outside the park,” the master plan says.

Continued support of the agricultural complex is supported in the plan and two key management recommendations are: the establishment of a cultural advisory committee and a community advisory committee for consultation on park management; and implementation of adaptive management principles.

State representatives will also explain the proposed bridge over Hanakapiai Stream during the meeting.

The reasoning for the bridge is rapid stream rise, which can trap hikers on the wrong side of the stream, and which has caused strandings and several deaths.

One such incident was in February 2013, when 54 hikers were stranded and one woman was swept out to sea while attempting to cross the flooded Hanakapiai Stream.

In August, Curt Cottrell, Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources State Parks administrator, said building a bridge provides one option for safe crossing at that part of the stream.

In an August TGI online poll to which 688 people responded, the majority of those voting didn’t want a bridge over the stream.

Survey results follow, with those participating choosing one out of three answers to the question: “Should a bridge be built over the Hanakapiai Stream so hikers won’t get stuck when heavy rains come?”

w 393 people voted: “No. It is a difficult hike in a beautiful wilderness area. A bridge would ruin the environment. What’s next, paving the path?”

w 238 people voted: “Yes. A small, narrow, wooden bridge people could pass over would be relatively inexpensive and prevent all these rescues we keep hearing about.”

w 57 people voted: “Maybe. But what if the bridge collapses because too many people are on it? Who has the liability?”

Also scheduled for Tuesday’s meeting are brief discussions about state’s proposed rules to expand commercial activities at Black Pot Beach Park and the new proposal for a hotel above the Hanalei River ridge.

The meeting will be held at Hanalei Elementary School, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. It is open to the general public.

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