Letter for Sunday, March 10, 2019

Mayor, it’s time for action on Coco Palms

Dear Mayor Kawakami,

I, like many of your other constituents, was encouraged to read in TGI that you (as well as your predecessor) have expressed doubts about the present Coco Palms redevelopment effort. So, please take action now to get a more realistic development plan for the property that will be implemented expeditiously.

Here are some suggestions based on ideas that many Kauai citizens have already put forth as well as my belief that Kauai County government likely doesn’t have the financial resources to tackle the undertaking by itself. There are two parts: first what should be done with the property and second how to pay for the first part.

First part: tear down most all of the existing structures and develop the property as a tropical park that features a first-class Kauai Hawaiian cultural center. It should be a place that is inviting to everyone but especially to Kauai residents. Include a botanical garden, an area for picnics and barbecues as well as open space for fun and games. The cultural center should be the focal point of the park and should be both educational as well as entertaining.

Part two will require some creative approaches. First, I believe that your leadership combined with Gov. Ige’s leadership can secure the money for acquisition and sustainment without negatively impacting either the county’s budget or the state’s budget. The key is to structure the project to be mostly funded by private donors, especially wealthy Hawaiian residents.

Perhaps Piere Omidyar, who has expressed a desire to do something good for Kauai, would be willing to donate to a “Omidyar Hawaiian Cultural Center.” Another potential donor for a large financial contribution would be Mark Zuckerberg. Central to raising the money would be the establishment of a tax-exempt Coco Palms Park and Cultural Foundation that might provide tax deductions for donors.

Now is the time to act with creative boldness, Mayor Kawakami. The citizens of Kauai have been patient too long, and want timely action on the Coco Palms property.

Peter Nilsen, Princeville

  1. Doug March 10, 2019 12:49 am Reply

    Only one problem Peter, you think traffic is bad in Kapa’a now? Just wait until either the Coco Palms is rebuilt or your cultural center is built! The traffic from either one is going to have to exit onto Kuamo’o road, which already backs up at the light, or the highway which is already backed up through town. Adding all those cars trying to enter and exit the property will create even more of a mess! The buildings should be torn down and it should be left as it is until the government finally addresses the traffic issues on this island, only then should development move forward!

  2. james March 10, 2019 7:39 am Reply

    All well and good to speculate about alternative uses for the Coco Palms property, but how do you propose to get the property from the owners to implement these plans? Eminent Domain? Might be the only way since I haven’t heard that the owners are selling. Maybe you heard something I don’t know. As to eminent domain proceedings, could the County legally take the property? Doubtful, at least not without a long and costly legal battle, and if the County wins, they will have to pay market value, money they don’t have to spend. While I like the concept, as usual, the devil is in the details.

  3. RG DeSoto March 10, 2019 11:43 am Reply

    Great idea, Peter. A park…so then the county can continue with the stellar job it does of maintaining the parks that it already has?
    The back-story on Coco Palms has been one of county interference, stalling and otherwise tossing up one roadblock after another to the owners of the property and their ability to rebuild. Then, minions like you harp on the owners and beg the government to fix what they screwed up in the first place. Brilliant!
    RG DeSoto

    1. Steve Martin March 11, 2019 10:16 pm Reply

      both mayors had the same negative opinions on the project. therefore they both know something the public is not aware of or looking for a costly legal battle for running their mouths about it. no one in their right mind would blow three million to demo and then stand around and let a lynching mob think they can just take away what has been accomplished. like I said it will be a battle and sell plenty newspapers as well. maybe raise the the tax up again a quarter percent to help pay court costs.

  4. manawai March 10, 2019 12:44 pm Reply

    I love how some commenters are entirely clueless about finance and business yet relish telling other people what they should do with their property. There is no chance that a “cultural center” will be able to generate anywhere near enough revenues to pay for the acquisition and development costs. Only a hotel/resort can do that. But then that doesn’t phase these know-nothings. They simply think that other people, their favorite source of money, will give their hard-earned funds to please you. Confiscating and spending other people’s money and controlling other people’s property is what these Bernie-Ocasio-types think is their mission. There’s nothing more greedy and self-centered than that.

  5. DASHADOW March 10, 2019 7:56 pm Reply


  6. Jose Bulatao March 10, 2019 11:14 pm Reply

    Might not the “highest and best” use of the Coco Palms site be a cultural-heritage center where Hawaiian arts, traditions, and aspects may be featured and show-cased by becoming a place where such could be showcased and preserved? In-door, out-door, in-depth studies and displays could be created and made available for the public-at-large to purchase to include in their collection of Hawaii’s magnificent culture. The income can be used for programs and services to support the Hawaiian community with respect to health issues, housing concerns, etc. Wouldn’t this be a “win-win” situation?

    1. dadhadow March 11, 2019 8:43 pm Reply

      would actually be a lose-win situation

  7. Steve Martin March 11, 2019 10:22 pm Reply

    there’s nothing better than telling it like it really is

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