KAPAIA — Larry Moises had a page of photographs to remember the Kapaia Swinging Bridge 63 years ago.
“The cables were greased,” Moises said. “And when you fell, you dropped into the water.”
Moises was one of about 100 people who turned out Thursday afternoon for the dedication ceremonies celebrating the completion of the rebuilt historic structure through the efforts of Laraine Moriguchi and the Kapaia Foundation.
“Today, you are looking at, and are able to touch, and feel history,” Moriguchi said. “The Kapaia Swinging Bridge has a story to tell — about the people from whom the bridge was originally built for, and how those people have impacted our lives today. We can read their stories in the history books, but to be able to see, touch and feel their presence through the Kapaia Swinging Bridge brings history to life.”
Dave and Georgina Takemoto came from California for the blessing.
“Dave was born and raised in Minnesota, but his roots run deep in Kapaia Valley,” Moriguchi said. “His dad Makoto was the youngest son of the Takemoto family who lived just across the stream, adjacent to the Immaculate Conception Church and across the Filipino Camp.”
The Kapaia Foundation has supporters throughout Kauai, the Neighbor Islands, and on the mainland, as far away as Maryland, Colorado, and California.
“Dave has supported our effort throughout the years, not only financially, but with his enthusiasm and encouragement,” Moriguchi said.
Nina Monasevitch of the Kapaia Foundation said the small group of people collected at the site of the bridge spanning the tranquil, gurgling Kapaia Stream may not be the same group Margaret Mead quoted as saying they changed the world.
“But it did take more than 12 years of thoughtful commitment to get the Kapaia Swinging Bridge rebuilt and restored as closely as possible to its original 1948 plans,” Monasevitch said. “During the plantation era, people living in Kapaia Valley needed the bridge to connect to school, work, shopping, socializing, worship, and just play. They used a variety of means ranging from basic planks to more utilitarian bridges that were all eventually washed away by floods.”
The county responded with something more permanent — the Kapaia Swinging Bridge. The bridge serves as a historical bridge of the plantation era and culture to today.
The county stopped maintaining the bridge in 2002, and in 2006, closed the structure due to safety concerns, triggering Moriguchi and Jerome Freitas to persist in asking the county to maintain the structure.
The Kauai County Council saw the value in doing this and allocated $231,000 to restore the bridge in September 2006.
Mel Rapozo, council chair, said that was six councils ago.
“That started a 12-year maze of frustration, testifying, community meetings, and more meetings,” Rapozo said. “After persistent inquiries, the County Council got the administration to report that the bridge project came in with a $4 million estimate.”
As the meetings continued, the Kapaia Foundation accepted the offer from the county to take ownership of the bridge, which in 2008 had been placed into the State Historical Register with the help of Pat Griffith, and the allocated funds to help rebuild the bridge.
“We were very fortunate to have local architect Ron Agor volunteer to be the project manager,” Monasevitch said. “Originally, the plan was to have volunteers rebuild the bridge, but ran into liability issues. Thankfully, Harry Duronslet and H.D. Construction provided the crew, the insurance coverage, and the rebuilt started in the fall of 2017.”
Agor said the project was done within the constraints of the $231,000 budget, and Moises said it really feels like and looks like the bridge he played on 63 years ago.
The Kapaia Foundation is working with the county and private landowners to secure public access and resolve liability concerns, Monasevitch said.
“The vision is to see the bridge used and enjoyed by the entire community,” she said.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.