HAENA — Gov. David Ige says he thinks it’s a good idea to try and start construction on the new plan for Haena State Park while post-flood restoration work is ongoing on the North Shore.
But a few steps need to be accomplished before the state can break ground on the project that would limit capacity to 900 visitors per day and create more facilities in the park.
“We would definitely be looking at what kind of construction and the implementation would be consistent and can be done in parallel with a lot of the restoration and repair work,” Ige said.
He continued: “I know that we are looking at can we try to accelerate implementation, seeing if we can move this forward a bit quicker because of the other work.”
Right now, the final Environmental Impact Statement is making its way over to Suzanne Case, chair of the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, for approval before any work on the project begins.
But it got one step closer to breaking ground with Ige’s June 26 issuance of an acceptance letter for the Haena State Park master plan EIS. That acceptance will be published in the July 8 Environmental Notice and then the master plan EIS goes to Case’s desk for final approval.
The plan has taken years to put together and sets forth a 100-stall main parking lot with permeable paving and stripped stalls. Space for shuttle stops and a turn-around area are also part of the plan, as well as a new pedestrian-only path that follows the lo‘i near the highway to Haena Beach.
Estimates say the project could cost $3 million to $5 million and a date of completion isn’t solidified.
Ige says community and conservation are at the heart of the plan for Haena State Park and that the plan incorporates as much local mana‘o as possible.
“The community has been engaged with the Department of Land and Natural Resources to really talk about Haena,” he said. “For a while they’ve been working on the plan and trying to incorporate community input.”
Kauai’s northern “end of the road” is a worldwide attraction that brings visitors and revenue to the island.
“It’s about finding the balance,” Ige said. “We do know that it is a very, very traveled location and significantly important to both residents as well as visitors. We need to listen to the residents in the community because clearly the visitors are impacting the entire community.”
It’ll take a couple of months for roadwork on Kuhio Highway to be completed, and Ige says that the restoration work in the area is a good chance to specifically focus on the Haena area.
“The master plan is about investing taxpayer dollars into infrastructure that can benefit the visitors and residents alike,” Ige said. “It’s an opportunity for us to moderate the level of activity, but not continue to have unlimited access to Haena.”