LIHUE — With 2017 now behind us, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and some Kauai County Council members took time to reflect on their accomplishments over the past year.
Breaking ground on the Adolescent Treatment and Healing Center is at the top of the list for Carvalho, who said it took a lot of energy and commitment from the community and dedication from all levels of government.
“A lot of times our kids who are going through some troubled times are being sent away and I believe they should be home and here at home with their families and that’s the big picture,” he said.
The $5 million, roughly 15,000-square-foot facility, funded at the state level, with land donated by Grove Farm, will include an eight-bedroom residential structure that may be expanded and additional open space for recreational and agricultural healing activities.
It is scheduled to open in early 2019.
Construction will begin this summer at an affordable housing unit in Eleele, with the first of four phases. At its completion, Carvalho said the complex will boast 550 units, with 149 being completed as part of phase 1. There will also be a second groundbreaking in March at an affordable housing unit in Koloa.
Carvalho also mentioned a third housing unit in Lihue as an accomplishment. It’s elder housing that allows family members the opportunity to live with their aging loved ones.
Another accomplishment Carvalho mentioned is the receipt of the TIGER grant. A national grant received by the County of Kauai, that will transform Lihue’s town core into a walkable, bikeable city, that will include bike lanes and lighted crosswalks and roundabouts.
“To me, it’s offering another choice. You can walk, or bike, or stroll, or skip or hop, or whatever you want to do, but safely and that’s the big part,” Carvalho said.
In order to win this grant, Carvalho said he went to Washington, D.C., to talk directly with lawmakers about it.
On Feb. 1, Carvalho said Kauai will be the first county in the state to transition to 100 percent electronic plan review.
“The days of the huge reams of paper you’d come in and place on the customer service desk area, is gone,” Carvalho said. “One of our bigger initiatives was going paperless internally, you start small and this one, Feb. 1 it will start and it will just improve everything.”
All the different review agencies are now connected electronically, he said. Plans can now be input directly into the system.
For the mayor, getting the GET tax, that will assist in taking care of Kauai’s infrastructure was another huge accomplishment of 2017.
With his term as mayor ending in November, Carvalho said he hopes the next administration will continue the projects he started.
Councilmember Derek Kawakami said in the wake of so much disruption on the national and global level, his approach has been to say focused on the needs of the people of Kauai County. “To find new solutions, ideas, ideas and innovations to some of our long-standing issues,” he said.
With much work to be done, Kawakami said 2017 was a foundation-building year for future progress.
“Our economy is strong with one of the lowest unemployment rates since 1976,” he said. “We created revenue to improve critical infrastructure and road conditions. We’ve embarked on a collaborative Kauai County General Plan update process, which provides wisdom and guidance to move into the future.”
This “age of disruption,” Kawakami said, can be Kauai’s greatest opportunity to be nimble, innovative and implement smart, safe and positive solutions.
“Together we can build on our strengths of community, shared values and love of the aina and stand out as a thriving community of which the world will take note,” he said.
Kawakami said he deeply appreciates the people of Kauai and Niihau for the opportunity to serve on the council.
“It was Kauai’s aloha spirit that uplifted and inspired me to serve you to galvanize a bright future for our county,” he said.
Councilmember Arthur Brun said from addressing the county’s housing crisis to working on the General Plan “and everything in between,” 2017 was a busy year for the county.
Early this spring, Brun said the Kauai County Housing Agency in partnership with Mark Development Inc., will be breaking ground on Koae, a 134 unit affordable housing project in Poipu.
“In 2017, Koae was awarded $2.7 million of 9 percent low income housing credits, the largest amount of credits ever given by the state. This award provides the financing to construct and complete the project,” Brun said.
With the exception of one council member, Brun said the council supported the Housing Agency’s petition with the State of Hawaii Land Use Commission to reclassify 75 acres to develop Lima Ola in Eleele, in order to develop Lima Ola.
“The LUC Commission voted unanimously to approve the reclassification of this project site, making it the county’s first approved 201H project, to deliver 100 percent of its homes as affordable,” Brun said.
Construction is expected to begin on phase one of the project later this year.
The county’s Section 8 program issued over 200 new vouchers for rental assistance in 2017, bringing the total to 675 being served. Additionally, Brun said the Tenant Based Rental Assistance program was implemented to provide rental assistance for homeless families.
TBRA can service up to 15 families experiencing homelessness at any given time with rental assistance.
“The TBRA program, in combination with other partnerships and programs, have resulted in permanently housing 25 families with children since July 1, 2017,” Brun said.
In 2018, Brun said he is looking forward to passing the island’s General Plan. “Something our county and our many residents have poured endless amounts of time and effort towards.”
The Garden Island reached out to all of the Kauai County councilmembers for this story.