HANALEI — About 150 people showed up for a meeting in Hanalei held by the county’s Public Works Department Monday night to talk about repairs to Black Pot Beach Park and Weke Road set to begin soon.
Major damages to be repaired due to the April floods include erosion of Weke Road, Black Pot Beach Park lands, and the comfort station that was destroyed.
There is a large sinkhole on Weke Road and flood erosion destroyed about 340 linear feet of Weke Road. Utilities were also impacted as sections of the water main were missing. The road will be 30 feet wide after construction, with very little changes made to what the road was like originally.
Engineering plans include taking sand dredged from Hanalei Bay to fill holes in the park and the road and crushed coral will be put on top of the sand layer, to go underneath the road. A mechanically stabilized earth wall will be constructed to help reduce erosion.
It took a couple of months to receive a U.S. Army Corp of Engineers construction permit.
Funding for project repairs is coming from FEMA, state, insurance, and the county.
Black Pot Beach and Weke Road debris removal including access improvements are expected to be completed by September.
Black Pot Beach dredging and site restoration is expected to be completed by October.
Public Work’s goal is to get the beach park and Weke Road back to the way they were, and repairs only include minor improvements but do not include changes that are part of the Black Pot Beach Master Plan.
There were different views about what should happen to the park and the road, how repairs should be done in terms of engineering to the time needed to take precautions regarding environmental impact.
Marine biologist Terry Lilley was disappointed with the repair plans, as were some other community members.
Lilley said an environmental impact statement is supposed to take three to five years, and that the amount of time taken since the flood, about three months to do an environmental review, is not enough.
He said more time must be taken to ensure the impact to the environment is minimal. He said needs of the watershed, the sensitive environment in the area including an estuary and habit for native species, to the effects on the coral reef must be considered.
Joel Guy, Hanalei Haena Community Association vice president, talked about the feedback he has heard from the community.
“I get calls every day from people wanting Black Pot returned to what it was,” he said.
At the meeting, he said the feedback he heard was different.
“The meeting seemed to be filled with concerned residents who wanted to make sure the job was done correctly and would rather slow things down,” he said.
Guy also said, “the county seems to be doing everything they can within the bureaucratic constraints to provide access to an area that is special to so many on Kauai.”
Mark Daniells, long-time Hanalei resident and artist, has experience in building and construction. He offered some ideas for repairs including installing a culvert, with a focus on maintaining the integrity of Black Pot Beach and Weke Road and repairs in the future should another disaster happen.
A culvert would allow flood waters to flow out of the area and properly drain and help to keep the road more structurally resilient, he said.
Daniells said there needs to be more information about the engineering work going into the project, especially details about the process of dredging sand from Hanalei Bay.
Change is headed for Hanalei no matter what, he said.
“We’re trying to assess, we’re trying to find the new normal,” he said. “We need to be patient and we need to be ready to accept change whether we like it or not.”
The timeline for repairs, according to Public Works, is that by October the construction contract will be out to bid and by November construction is scheduled to begin. Construction is scheduled to be completed by February which is also when the park is scheduled to reopen. Lastly, construction of the comfort station is expected to be completed by fall.