A letter from a neglected stepchild

We thought that the county parks for the Kauai County Department of Parks and Recreation are like keiki. And if you have keiki you have to take care of them. But when a very few of them are pampered and nurtured, and the others are deliberately ignored these ignored ones feel neglected.

The parks cannot write letters, so we the constant users of one of those neglected parks are writing now on behalf of Salt Pond Beach Park.

We have complained about the condition and the maintenance of the park many times even on the pages of TGI. To no avail. The situation has been the same for the past 10 years or more. The pavilions seem to be functioning, but the bathrooms are a disaster. The doors and the interior of the bathrooms are below any standard that we know.

While in most parks the toilets are being cleaned first thing in the morning when the park attendant begins his/her work here at 6 a.m., it is not the case at Salt Pond. Many times, the four bathrooms have not even been cleaned by 10 a.m. Instead the attendant spends most of her working time going around in the park with a tong and pulling out the HI5 recyclables from the trash and putting them in separate bags.

Is it perhaps for the benefit of the Department? We think that from the refunds received from the recyclables collected by the park attendant during the past 10 years the Department could have installed the low-maintenance stainless-steel toilet bowls, doors and partitions just like in the bathrooms of Poipu Beach Park maintained by the same Department.

By the way, industry standards require to clean highly frequented public bathrooms not just one time, but as frequently as needed. How come the supervisors don’t know this? For the past 10 years or more we have not seen any of those come by and take some action. What’s the county’s excuse this time?

In the shallow water of the beach submerged there are still the old brick barbecue grills swept into the sea during the last hurricane, which was in 1992. For the past 25 years swimmers have been injuring their feet when hitting them under the water.

Does it take a lot of effort to remove them? No, not at all. It would take only a pick-up truck and a rope to pull them out of the water and haul them away. It would not take more than two hours to complete it.

Strangely enough, the county could find a truck and manpower instantly to remove our “Keep this park clean” sign and another time to remove a big boulder which was under the 13 coconut trees at the edge of the park, although it did not bother anyone.

We don’t believe that for 25 years they could not find the truck, the rope and the manpower. Just another sign of total neglect.

Especially on the weekends, locals like to hold parties and celebrations in the park and they are allowed to drive onto the grass just to unload and load chairs and tents, but their vehicles would have to leave once they are done with the unloading or loading.

Still, they are frequently parked on the grass for the entire day. Nobody reminds them to leave and park their vehicles in the parking area. No supervision, no enforcement. Apparently, the county does not care about this either.

The large trash bins, most of the time full and smelling terribly right at the park entrance provide a disgusting welcome to the visitors. This guarantees the first impression of the visitors. But the county kind of forgets that there is only one first impression. So, when a tourist comes and spends half a day there, most likely he won’t come back again to our park. This is how the first impression works.

We seriously think that Salt Pond Beach Park is willfully neglected by the County of Kauai. With more than one million tourists a year — TGI, Our View July 30 — the money could have been found to make our park, Salt Pond Beach Park as attractive as Poipu Beach Park. Perhaps the money is there, but the will is definitely not. You may ask why. We are convinced that the county does not want the visitors mingle with us, the locals, even though we treat them with sincere aloha spirit.

So, what’s the solution? Should we organize a fundraiser right on the beach for the county with a sign “Fundraiser for the Neglected Keiki of Kauai?” with further explanation why do we do it? Or print leaflets with the headline “We’ll greet you with true aloha! Come and visit Salt Pond Beach Park, the neglected keiki of the County of Kauai!” and distribute them at the airport? The negative message might work to our advantage.

Unfortunately, the described situation is not unique, because there are quite a few neglected parks and small boat harbors on the island. We all can see that proper care is extended mostly to the two favorite ones: Poipu Beach Park and Lydgate Park.

Now, that all 64 parks on Kauai are under the same management and the goal of the county with the parks should be the same, that is to provide decent recreation both to the visitors and the locals, we can hardly understand this willful neglect.

Apparently, it is time to make the changes in the parks or rather in their management. Since the park is actually Hawaiian land, the best solution would be of course to turn over the management and maintenance of Salt Pond Park to us Native Hawaiians and we could make drastic improvements in it to match Poipu Beach Park or Lydgate Park.

And we would do it with accountability that the County’s Park and Recreation Department does not have.

•••

Jeremy Apo is a resident of Hanapepe.

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