WAIPOULI — Connecting the Ke Ala Hele Makalae coastal path from Kapaa Town to Lydgate Park is a step toward the project’s full vision, according to organizers.
And study of the 1.1 mile-long section, known as the Waipouli Connector, has encountered multiple burial plots and cultural sites along the route over the last several years.
The latest two were were discovered in 2014, along with three cultural deposit sites according to Michael Dega, principal investigator for SCS Archaeology, the organization contracted for consultation on the project’s burial treatment plan.
“The one on the north side was within the pathway so the path was designed around the burial,” Dega said. “It’s preserved in place and they moved the bike path.”
The second burial plot was previously disturbed and is on Kauai Shores Hotel property.
The path’s design avoids both burial sites, and Dega said the closest the path’s projectile comes within the burials is seven feet.
“This isn’t a new concern, it’s been under discussion for several years now,” said Tommy Noyes, with the educational organization Kauai Path. “Standard protocols should be followed for the respectful avoidance of burial sites.”
As construction continues on the path, inadvertent finds are a possibly, consultants and organizers of the project say, and an above-ground crypt has been created near the location of the path to re-intern those remains.
The path’s planned route goes from Kauai Shores Hotel to Islander on the Beach, and goes through a state historic preservation archeological site which has Native Hawaiian cultural deposits.
The projected path also goes through Coconut Plantation Village Resort’s undeveloped land, which has required a 100-foot shoreline setback. The county is seeking a Special Management Area permit and a Shoreline Setback Variance permit for the project.
And though the path has been moved to avoid the burial sites, some are questioning the positioning of the new route, because they say it’s too close to the ocean and it treks through an archeological site.
“When they moved the path, they moved it seaward and I think there’s enough leeway to move it mauka,” said Rayne Regush, chairwoman of Wailua-Kapaa Neighborhood Center.
She continued: “It creates more of a buffer for the culture when you move development inland.”
Risks to the landscape, potential loss of cultural and traditional shoreline uses, and potential flooding issues are some of the reasons Regush says the path should be moved toward the mountain.
“It seems that the county is minimizing the consequences of building the path too close to the shoreline,” Regush said. “The path is a legacy for the future, but only if it is place in the best possible location.”
Acting County Engineer Lyle Tabata confirmed the path was moved south, parallel to the ocean, in order to avoid the burial site. But, he did not answer further questions about the decision to relocate the path toward makai instead of mauka.
Connecting the Waipouli Path segment — formally known as the Lydgate Park-Kapaa Bike/Pedestrian Path, Phase C&D — is an important piece of the overall path plan, organizers say. It connects the section of the pathway that ends at the Waiopili Beach Resort and the other completed section that ends at the south edge of the Coconut Market Place parking lot.
“The strong attraction is the connection between Lydgate Park as a regional park and the Kapaa population center,” Noyes said. “It’s a matter of importance to complete the connection between those two segments.”
A meeting to inform the community on the plan has been slated for 2 p.m. Saturday at the Kapaa Public Library and the public is invited to hear updates from county building division chief, Dough Haigh.