Mayor: Community connection key to sustainability

POIPU — Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. shared his plan for Kauai’s future Tuesday during the Kauai Chamber of Commerce’s 3rd Annual Mayor’s Luncheon held at the Sheraton Kauai Resort.

“It is important that we all be connected as an island, as a state and globally,” Carvalho said during his speech.

Plans to achieve this goal include the inter-connectivity of six main areas: clean energy, local food production, natural resource management, solid waste reduction, smart sustainable community, green workforce and education.

“We are small, but we can make an impact, not only for the state or the country, but for the world,” Carvalho said. “It’s our kuleana as stewards of the earth.”

The county has worked with Kauai Island Utility Co-op to convert 3,000 state and county street lights into energy-saving LED lighting. Kauai was the first county in the state the retrofit all of its streetlights, a $400,000 annual savings, said Carvalho.

He said he plans to work closely with the community on important issues concerning environment and agriculture to continue with their vision. The 75-acre Kilauea Agricultural Park can serve as a successful model for other communities across the island, he said.

“Natural resource management is important to continue looking at,” said Carvalho. “This for our keiki, this is for our kupuna, this is for our visitors, our residents, everybody.”

Economic development is creating draft programs for better waste management, which allow businesses and organizations to apply for grants. Representatives will be going to residents’ homes, working with businesses and providing resources to help manage waste.

“We are looking for innovative and forward-thinking solutions,” said Carvalho. “Details of the grant should be available this fall. These types of initiatives require change in our thinking and our behavior to be successful.”

Carvalho emphasized revitalization as key through maintaining safe routes to schools and utilizing close partnerships with state and federal organizations. The housing shortage is also being addressed with approved design and development of 149 homes for the Lima Ola Workforce Housing.

“We want to do everything we can to be fiscally responsible, still have a healthy reserve, do what we need to do to support roads and bridges, and look at repair and maintenance of existing facilities,” said Carvalho.

His proposed changes for the Kauai Bus include extended weekend service on mainline routes. Possible strategies for Lihue, Koloa, Wailua, Waimea, Hanapepe, and Eleele shuttles include reorganization, new services, and continued partnerships with businesses and resorts. On-demand bus service for people with mobility constraints may offer in-person assessments, fare incentives, and changes to eligibility, limits, and fares.

Another ambitious plan the mayor introduced was streamlining the permitting process. He hopes to resolve department coordination and safety issues by Feb. 1.

“We try our best to keep everything moving in the right direction,” Carvalho said. “As a county we can achieve a lot with the help of partnering with businesses and community organizations, all of us working together.”

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