Maverick: ‘We want to be good neighbors’

  • Jessica Else / The Garden Island file

    Maverick Helicopters pilot Adam Chase briefs passengers on safety and procedures before a helicopter tour of Kauai out of Port Allen Airport last year.

LIHUE — Maverick Helicopters wants to spell out its side of a controversy surrounding aerial tours it started last year out of a small airstrip adjacent to the salt beds in Hanapepe.

In a letter recently distributed to the island’s hospitality industry, Maverick outlined several points.

“We’re just trying to do the right thing,” said Bryan Kroten, Maverick’s vice president of marketing. “We want to be good neighbors.”

Maverick has been criticized by some Native Hawaiians, who have harvested the pa‘akai for generations at the salt beds and remain fiercely determined to oppose any commercial expansion that might infringe on their sacred land.

Maverick is facing fines of up to $10,000 a day for structures the helicopter company recently built on its property without first obtaining permits from the county Planning Department. A Planning Commission meeting in June drew hundreds of residents who spoke out against Maverick’s permit request.

Kroten said Maverick is working with the county and the state to resolve “some of the issues that were in place prior to us buying the operation.”

“We are looking forward to a resolution,” he said Thursday.

He said they distributed the letter in response to questions they were receiving from some of their partners. Key, Kroten said, is doing all they can to get the correct information out there.

“We felt we needed to address it,” he said.

Some highlights of the letter:

• “Maverick Helicopters has never flown over the Salt Ponds, and we have computer tracking in every helicopter to prove it. Maverick adjusted its flight route further away from the Salt Ponds than the previous operator when operations began in 2018. There is also public tracking of all flights which verifies that our helicopters do not fly over.

• “Are helicopter operations at Port Allen Airport bad for the Salt Ponds? Not according to Environmental Assessment (State Project No. AK2010-01) dated January 14, 2002, which concluded that airport operations have no adverse effects on the surrounding areas including the Salt Ponds.

• “Maverick Helicopters were in contact with leaders of the Salt Pond community before the purchase of the helicopter operation. Furthermore, we received an email from a leader within the Salt Pond community dated Oct. 5, 2017 stating ‘My goal is to get that airport closed – just so you know my intentions.’

• “We have chosen to exclusively fly Quiet Technology EC130 “ECO-Star” helicopters in order to reduce effects on natural habitats. With this investment comes an estimated 50% reduction in noise.

• “What are the changes or improvements Maverick Helicopters is requesting? The business was acquired in 2018 with a restroom built into the existing hangar, constructed in 2005 by the previous owner. The bathroom was tied in to an existing cesspool that has been in place at Port Allen for over 40 years. This restroom and cesspool are no longer in use and were disabled.

“This system needs modification and we have filed a request to invest in making the existing restroom facility up to code. We also improved the previous customer area (container) as it was rusted and not suitable to guests. We invested in a new portable office unit which is larger than the original.

• “One of the permits we have asked for is to increase the square footage of the unit by 350-square-feet. Theft to the property occurred in which the existing generator and propane tank were stolen while the facility was inactive. Maverick Helicopters purchased a new propane tank and generator which were larger than the existing ones prior to permitting, for this we take full responsibility.”

• “Our wish is that we can move forward and leave behind the negative history associated with the previous operators and owners. We feel very confident that once the community learns who and what we are about, we can coexist. Our goal is to promote and educate about the history and cultural values of Kauai while showcasing its natural beauty.”

Kroten addressed comments by some who say the company should fly out of Lihue. He said they can’t now because there is a waiting list and they are already on it.

“That’s not an option, and it hasn’t been an option for years,” Kroten said.

Kroten said Maverick has been around more than 20 years and has one of the highest reputation levels in the helicopter industry. He encouraged people to review Maverick’s records regarding passenger approval and safety and asked that they “give us a chance and look at who we are and what we are.”

“I think people will be pleasantly surprised,” he said.

He added Mavericks plans to stay on Kauai “a long time.”

•••

Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or cloehrer@thegardenisland.com.

10 Comments
  1. Rich Belmont September 29, 2019 9:20 am Reply

    So you want to take responsibility. That’s good. You can start by tearing down your unpermitted building.


    1. Vicky September 30, 2019 7:52 pm Reply

      The county is getting money that’s why!!!!
      TGI Maverick is facing fines of up to $10,000 a day for structures ….
      So the county is getting 10k a day for his illegal structure. So the county is going to take their time. While the salt beds get all poisoned with the helicopter fumes and Doo Doo water. Making the money!!! Cha Ching


  2. curious dog September 29, 2019 2:19 pm Reply

    How come the illegal structure on Mauna Kea got torn down & the illegal unpermitted structure here did not?

    Maverick willingly bought a company that was in trouble. They inherited violations & continued them by recently installing an unpermitted structure? How’s that being better neighbors?

    Families with centuries-old roots should come first in this culturally important location. Shame on the county if they put Maverick’s needs over the people.


  3. VIcky September 29, 2019 5:38 pm Reply

    How can The county let him still operate?? If the county is charging him fee for 10k why do let him still make money?? He’s is doing things illegally!! If I would build something illegal I’m pretty sure they would make me do something about it ASAP! How can he have a cesspool?? Why Doyle get a septic tank line everyone else ?? So unfair! This people with money can get away with what ever they like ! I’m building a home and I’m following all the permits that I need to get, I think they should too, so from reading this article I feel like just building in my property and no need get permits!! Like Maverick! He do what he like? Where was the county investigators when he was doing illegal stuff?? This Island is so sad. Is who you know and how much money you make!


  4. Sheeples September 29, 2019 8:30 pm Reply

    It’s pretty cool to have our own propaganda arm for all capitalistic endeavors on the island. Just make a loud, annoying, helicopter company and watch the bank account fatten. These simple island folk, be them few these days, love to see a pristine place ruined for the benefit of a few. Good on you TGI, keep the rape and pillage going! No shame, only gain!!!


  5. mina September 30, 2019 5:44 am Reply

    Anything that makes as much noise as a helicopter can never be a good neighbor. You might as well knock on your neighbor’s door ever 5 minutes and holler “screw you.”


  6. manongindashadow0711 September 30, 2019 4:06 pm Reply

    You may not be flying above the Salt Beds. However common sense will tell you that, ” when our east and south winds blow strong your fumes/exhaust drift toward the salt beds with the wind.”


    1. Truthfinder19 October 3, 2019 12:37 pm Reply

      I was driving by the other day and saw that the parking lot that they use to get to the salt pond was upwind as well. When they drove in to work in the salt beds it was kicking up a lot of dust and dirt. I was also thinking about what happens when oil drips or coolant leaks from any of their trucks that they park right up against the salt pond. Does any of that get in the salt, or do they have something to stop it from seeping through the ground to the salt?


  7. Joe Public October 1, 2019 8:55 am Reply

    Really? go back to the mainland.


  8. Rev Dr. Malama October 3, 2019 9:13 am Reply

    I support the total restoration and conservation of the area along with the immediate DEMAND TO TURN OFF THE 2 LIGHTS ON THE HANGER!!!! MAVERICKS WILL BE ENTICING SHEARWATER FLEDGLINGS TO CRASH AND DIE, WHICH BRINGS MORE HEWA TO THE COMPANY….
    AND HAWAI’IAN KINGDOM SUBJECTS NEED TO GET THE GOVERNMENT BACK TO IT’S RIGHTFUL STATUS AND POWER!!! All the bickering is a distraction to the real issue of unlawful occupation…..

    HAWAIIANKINGDOM.ORG


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