Welcome to 2019.
With the new year, comes new hope. Hope for a better today. Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope for a better life. Even hope for lower taxes and fewer potholes.
This, we believe, will be a good year on Kauai. Consider all that we endured and survived in 2018: A false missile alert that panicked thousands statewide, flooding that devastated much of the North Shore, a Koloa neighborhood and other areas, hurricanes, maddening traffic, a sewer line break that sent sewage into the Wailua River and led to a poopy mess, a continuing shortage of affordable housing and too many brown water advisories to count.
Through all the heartache of the floods, the community rallied together. Many donated time, food and money. Many offered their talents to help others rebuild and recover. Many refused to give in to the naysayers and the negativity that abounds. Drivers even exhibited great patience toward their fellow man.
There will, of course, be challenges in this new year. Housing, traffic, rising cost of living, and natural and man-made disasters won’t go away. But clearly, this island has demonstrated its fortitude and resolve in rising to meet and overcome the obstacles that will unexpectedly appear.
All that said, here are some hopes for a successful 2019:
• Mayor Derek Kawakami will meet the lofty expectations everyone has for him. Kawakami was easily elected as this island’s leader for many reasons. He has deep ties here, his family is well known, and he clearly loves Kauai. But it’s not just sentimental or emotional reasons that earned him such support. His political and business experience is, frankly, impressive. He has a track record of success. This man knows how to get things done. And with such strong community support, we believe he will get things done that will make Kauai and even better place to live. And Kawakami is a good man people like being around. Much like his predecessor, his presence brightens the room and people feel better. And as we have said before, when you feel better, you do better.
• That there will be a balance struck between promoting tourism and maintaining this island’s lifestyle. Kauai, when the final tally is in for 2018, will see more visitors than it has in 25 years. That’s good for the economy. But, as many have pointed out, it also means traffic troubles, crowded beaches and stress on an overloaded infrastructure. The Hawaii Tourism Authority is under the new leadership of Chris Tatum and we believe he will recognize that yes, Kauai needs a sound tourism industry, but it can’t be to the point of over saturation, which it has reached. Balance is needed, even if it means the island welcomes fewer guests in the coming year.
• That there will be no drowning in 2019.
• That the Earth and the ocean will be treated with respect and we all will play a part in cleaning up the mess we’ve made of things.
• That people embrace exercise.
• When Kuhio Highway finally opens again on the North Shore, it will be sooner rather than later, and it will go smoothly. There is a chance for trouble when the road reopens, as some have expressed views that visitors are no longer welcome there. Not everyone is looking forward to the North Shore being overrun again with vehicles on the highway and people on the beaches. But the recovery of the North Shore will not be complete until this key roadway is open to all. That said, the beauty of this area is unparalleled and we urge those in charge to make wise decisions when open access is resumed.
• That we see the renovation of the Coco Palms Resort and the vision of developers Tyler Greene and Chad Waters to restore this once iconic site to its former glory comes to fruition.
• Our focus will be on improving the lives and doing what we can for those who count on a vibrant workforce. And that would be our keiki, our kupuna, and our pets. Yes, we realize some will scoff at the lumping pets in with children and seniors, but the pets need our help. The Kauai Humane Society is overflowing with dogs and cats, and while they do their best to find homes for them all, it doesn’t always happen and have a happy ending. As for our kupuna, they deserve our utmost respect and respect. This is a country that dismisses its elderly as irrelevant. It should be the opposite. This country should treasure them and value their opinions. And when it comes to keiki, they are precious. They are the future. Treat them well, teach them to treat others well, and they will. Keiki will follow the actions that they see, not the words they hear.
• That the national political discord of so much anger, hate and intolerance does not manage to take hold here any more than it already has. Kauai already has its fair share of naysayers and those who are quick to point out fault at every opportunity and yet, never can find anyone to praise. Don’t listen to people who are rude, hostile and nasty. They have one motive, and that is to drag others down to their level. Is it really so much to ask that we speak respectfully of those we don’t like or don’t agree with? Kauai also has an abundance of good people with a desire and heart to help at every turn. Basic courtesy, respect, generosity and kindness can do much in the way of lifting everyone to be their best.