HANALEI — A Kapaa man is questioning the county’s actions in the delayed reopening of Black Pot Beach Park in Hanalei. Through a series of emails, Michael McGinnis has asked Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami whether or not the beach park can be reopened immidiately.
Following is an email McGinnis wrote to Kawakami on June 6:
Dear Mr. Mayor:
You were elected in promises of change.
Why is the County unable to get Black Pot open to the public. Another month long delay for water meters and fencing?
Hanalei businesses are devastated by fallout from last year’s flood, and now from the work on the road above the bridge.
Visitors have very limited options for activities in Hanalei. Locals have been denied the use of this beach park for far too long.
If you really are the agent of change you promised, take some executive action and think outside the box. Get workers to finish what they need to and open the beach park. Can’t fencing be done once the park is open? Water meters cannot take a month to install.
Please help businesses in Hanalei by reopening Black Pot.
County Public Information Officer Alden Alayvilla responded to McGinnis’s email the same day:
Mahalo for your email. Our administration heavily sympathizes with the plight of the business community on the North Shore, as visitors are the bread and butter of our island’s economy.
Delays with materials for fencing is with our contractor. These types of delays — though they are at times unexpected and impromptu — are inevitable aspects that the county has little control over.
Additionally, we continue to work with the Kauai Water Department to ensure that both local families and visitors enjoy the park at its most optimum levels.
We very much thank you for your patience.
Inevitable aspects that the County has little control over?’ You make the County sound like a victim with no recourse. The County has control over projects that it oversees and pays for.
A delay in materials may slow down efforts to install fencing, but should that really hold up the opening of the park for a month? Here’s an idea: install temporary fencing until the new fencing arrives, then block off the work area when the new fencing is installed. You could even require the contractor to do the temporary fencing at their own cost, since it was their kuleana to have the fencing done by now.
And the water meters? How long could that take if you sent a couple of crews down with a hard deadline? Seriously, the reasons you listed in your email are a sad attempt to justify business as usual. Run the county like the constituents matter, because they will during reelection.
The community wants you to open the park. This may not be how things are usually done at the County, but that is exactly the platform Mayor Kawakami ran on. Mayor Yukimura, despite all the positive things she did for Kauai, is to this day inextricably linked to her response to Iniki. People gauge the success of an executive on his or her actions, not on their excuses.
The county did not respond to McGinnis’s second query, prompting him to follow up with the county a third time.
I’d like to follow up regarding our email conversation yesterday.
Is the Mayor considering alternatives to waiting weeks for fencing and water meters at Black Pot? Or does he plan to allow the community to suffer despite what seems to be a fairly easy fix?
People want access to their local resources. The Hanalei Pier is an iconic part of the Island’s geography. We have suffered over a year with crowded parking at other Hanalei beaches, and visitors have not had direct access to a major Hanalei attraction. Why delay for another month something that can clearly be made available now?
Mayor Kawakami has a real opportunity to show he is a different kind of politician. He could turn this delay into a win for his office and for his constituents. Or not.
Please let us know what the Mayor plans to do to provide relief to the residents and businesses of the north shore.
McGinnis proceeded to call the county Department of Parks and Recreation to voice his concern with them.
“I was told the main issue is the water meters at the park, then found out there aren’t even any bathrooms or showers out there,” McGinnis said of the converstaion. “According to parks department they just found out that the Department of Water is requiring them to put backflow prevention on the water meters before they charge the water lines. And, again, why is this delaying the opening of a park with no toilets or showers?”
McGinnis said it is a reflection of the administration, and he predicts the opening of the beach park will be after the Fourth of July. “Meanwhile, Hanalei businesses suffer, and the community has no access to Black Pot,” he said.