PRINCEVILLE — Signs indicating access being closed to the sole trail down to Hideaways Beach on Kenomene Bay have been in place since April, and now an easement to get down to the water is currently being reviewed for possible county acquisition and maintenance.
Problems with the trail can be traced back to 1975, when an inaccurate easement was drafted and signed, members of the county’s Public Access, Open Spaces and Natural Resources Preservation Fund Commission learned at its Oct. 14 meeting.
Deputy County Attorney Mark Bradbury explained the easement originally granted by the Princeville Cooperation to the county meant to encompass the beach trail — which begins at Pu‘u Poa Condominiums off Ka Haku Road — down to Hideaways. However, the signed easement, which has been in place since May 1975, creates an easement to another beach and crosses over private property.
“Soon after the deed was drafted, for the next 40 years, the (homeowners association) of Pu‘u Poa and the county attorney’s office talked about redrafting the deed to make it correct and accurate, but it was never done,” Bradbury said. “During this period, which is in excess of 40 years, nobody — not Pu‘u Poa, not the county — maintained the trail.”
This explains why the trail went into disrepair despite community efforts to maintain it.
About two years ago, a visitor from California injured his hand while on the often-slippery hike and filed a lawsuit against the County of Kaua‘i. While this initial suit was dismissed, the tourist then filed a second lawsuit naming the county and Pu‘u Poa Condominiums for damages, which was settled, Bradbury said.
Fearing more liabilities, Pu‘u Poa, with the allowance of the county, put up signs at the head of the trail, closing access due to “dangerous conditions” in April.
Recently, a surveyor for Pu‘u Poa has redrafted a new easement deed for the county with an accurate trail route, which Bradbury, last week, requested that the commission consider financing, in addition to repairing the trail. The price tag for repair could be between $55,000 to $70,000, Bradbury estimated, for improvements that could include a concrete stairway with railing, but the exact repairs are to be determined.
The commission has the authority to recommend action to the Kaua‘i County Council, but if the county does not take on the easement, the trail will be officially shuttered.
“That would mean the general public of Kaua‘i are going to lose access to a very secluded beach that has no other access,” Bradbury said.
The commission deferred more discussion on the topic to its next meeting while members have some more time to weigh cost and maintenance.
“The Open Space commissioners requested more information regarding the repairs (costs, materials, special-management-area permits, timelines), as no information was provided other than hearsay ballpark figures from a third party,” commission Chair Nancy Kanna said Thursday. “In order to make an informed and intelligent recommendation to the Kaua‘i County Council, more information is needed.”
The commission next meets on Thursday, Dec. 9, at 1 p.m.
Sabrina Bodon, editor, can be reached at 245-0441 or email@example.com.