WAIPOULI — Coastal erosion, disrupting shearwater seabirds and a waste of taxpayer dollars are reasons cited for resident protest against possible action by the county to acquire private land for the bike and pedestrian path, Ke Ala Hele Makalae.
As of late, the county is looking at taking over Islander on the Beach land by eminent domain for a price tag of $24,300. The land would be included in a third phase of the construction of the Eastside coastal path.
The path easement would come down the west side of the Waipouli property and cross east in front of the beach, toward the Kaua‘i Coast Resort at the Beachboy.
The Islander on the Beach board of directors does not have the authority to sign easement documents because it requires signatures of all unit owners, but has signaled in favor of the county action, according to a memo to the Kaua‘i County Council from county Department of Public Works Acting County Engineer Troy Tanigawa.
The unpaved land is already traversed by the public, but the call to take over the land to put in a proposed, 12-foot wide concrete path is now the decision of the county. The council will vote whether to do this through a resolution at its meeting on April 21.
Speaking to the council last Wednesday, Islander on the Beach resident Rick Powers got together with several other residents to provide public testimony from a balcony on the property.
One by one, these residents expressed concern for the dilapidation of the current path, how close the Islander property is to ongoing coastal erosion due to being grandfathered into shoreline setback requirements, and the safety of residents and path users.
Just up the road, portions of the path along the Wailua corridor are in trouble, as coastal erosion eats underneath it. The shoreline in this area has seen expedited erosion since 2019. According to the state’s Seat Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaption Report, one foot of sea-level rise would compromise this proposed path.
“Looking at what was lost south, at the Wailua Beach and Coco Palms Resort, one would be prudent to relocate to another, easily-more-feasible location, of which there are others nearby with easier and less-costly access of construction,” Gary Lamouria said in written testimony to the council.
“It would seem a folly to put the path in harm’s way of the relentless wave action and often-enough storms, and there is the matter of rising ocean levels because of global warming,” he wrote.
Then there’s the native habitat.
Mary Ransbury, a volunteer with Save our Shores, said the path would disrupt nesting shearwaters. Ransbury said that, in recent history, the birds have returned after leaving that particular area years ago.
In several spots in this area are signs asking visitors to be cautious of nesting birds. Should the easement go through and the path created, these areas would be a few feet off the path.
Powers recommended the council reroute the path more inland, possibly through a commercial area.
“(There) is a much-more-practical alternative path that leaves the shoreline as is and routes the bicycle path through the Coconut Marketplace, a commercial center that is desperate for business after this brutal pandemic,” he said.
Powers extended an invitation to councilmembers as well as other elected officials and decision-makers to envision just how the path will affect the shoreline: “Please come here and look.”
Clarification: This story was updated Monday, April 12 to clarify that Mary Ransbury is a volunteer with Save our Shores, not Save our Shearwaters.
Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or email@example.com.