By Judy Dalton and Brad Parsons on 6 December 2009 -
Aloha friends of Kaua'i,
On Monday evening, December 7th, the fate of one of the island's most notable beaches will be at stake - Wailua Beach. Building a 14 feet wide boardwalk to serve as a recreational multi-use/bike path will put the beach at unnecessary risk. Hawai'i is losing and will continue to lose many of its beaches erosion and sea level rise. Imposing a structure on the beach at Wailua will stress the natural beach process and eventually threaten its existence. We must ask ourselves, "Am I willing to sacrifice a beach so I can ride my bike on it?"
Wailua Beach, also known as Mahunapu`uone (meaning "the sand dunes that conceal the bones"), is considered by the Hawaiians to be the most culturally, historically and spiritually significant not only on Kaua'i, but in the Hawaiian Island chain. Building a boardwalk on the beach would be a profound insult to the Native Hawaiians. Why would development here be considered when it has become very evident that it would be hurtful to so many people who want to keep the beach intact and protect the iwi of their ancestors?
At this point, it appears that the county is planning to build the path on Wailua Beach, despite recommendations by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to keep it off the beach unless large numbers of people attend the meeting and ask the Mayor to change his mind. New information shows the importance of protecting the beach and respecting the mana`o of the Hawaiian kupuna, which was mis-interpreted by The Path consultants.
There is a very viable alternative to the path being on the sandy beach at Wailua, which was included in the Environmental Assessment (EA). It's a mauka route on an existing road along a scenic canal behind Coco Palms, on land belonging to the county.
There seems to be some confusion and misunderstanding about the path alternatives and the assumptions/questions below which are clarified by the responses.
1. "If the mauka route is chosen that would cause an additional highway crossing, wouldn't it?"
NO! BOTH THE BEACH ROUTE AND THE MAUKA ROUTE WOULD CROSS KUHIO HIGHWAY THE SAME NUMBER OF TIMES. The only difference is that the highway crossing on the beach route would be at Lanikai Street, and the highway crossing on the mauka route would be at the existing light at Kuamo'o Road. In addition, IF THE ROUTE ON WAILUA BEACH IS USED ,A NEW TRAFFIC LIGHT ON THE HIGHWAY WOULD BE ADDED at Lanaikai Street causing more stop and go in this congested section of the highway.
2. "The beach route would provide access to the beach access."
There is ALREADY access to the beach. The two parking lots presently located on either end of the beach will continue to exist if either route is chosen.
3. "I'm not sure if I want to walk or ride a bike on a path along a canal."
BOTH routes go along the canal. The beach route, continuing north along Papaloa Road, turns on Lanikai Street crosses the highway, where a new traffic light would have to be added. It then cuts across land on the mauka side of the highway and along the canal following it on to Foodland. The mauaka route would go alongside the canal starting from a road behind Coco Palms and continue to Foodland, as well. See pictures of the scenic canal route behind Coco Palms at end of this letter.
4. "Wouldn't it hold up completion of the path if the mauka route is used?"
No. Since the mauka route was listed in the EA as one of the alternate routes, getting it approved would take could take just 2 or 3 months and cause no delay in the overall project. The path can't connect to points south until the bridge over Wailua River is completed which will take at least a year.
5. "If the road behind Coco Palms is used it would cause more disturbance to burials."
No, the Wailua Drainage Canal roadway is an ALREADY EXISTING ROAD behind Coco Palms connecting Kuamo'o Road with Haleilio Road and was used by cars for several years. The section of path coming off the bridge would go cross the highway at Kuamo'o Road and continue along the road (which is being widened) to connect with the mauka route and avoids disrupting cultural sites in the area. By not placing the path on the beach it prevents disturbing cultural sites on the beach while keeping the beach intact in its natural state. The recent letter from the State Historic Preservation Dept states that cultural sites would be affected, yet those sites are actually a considerable distance away from the mauka path. Their letter stands in sharp contrast with OHA's letter.
6. "The path on the beach would be on dirt and not sand, right?"
No. The path on the beach would be on top of flat sand dunes, currently covered with plants. The sand dunes are vital to preservation of the beach as they store sand for future beach replenishment.
7. "Upon crossing Haleilio Road, the mauka path would displace people living in their homes."
Not so. There's one house on commercial property that's been for sale over a year and unoccupied. There are two additional empty lots to obtain easements that are also for sale.
8. "We will lose the $4.2 million incentive money if we don't put the path on the beach."
Not true, provided the money is used anywhere on Phase 3 by March 2, 2010 as confirmed by the Department of Transportation.
For more photos of the alternative path route mauka of the old Coco Palms Hotel see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/21400600@N03/sets/72157622826153697/show
If you want to protect Wailua Beach and support native Hawaiian culture, please come out on Monday, December 7th at 6:00pm at the Kauai Peace & Freedom Convention Center on Hardy Street in Lihue. To read a request from kanaka maoli to attend the meeting, visit: http://www.kaieie.org/Wailuanuiahoano_GreatSacredWailua.html
Ea O Ka Ania: Last Chance For Wailua 12/2/09 INDEX: Access, Hawaiiana, iwi, Planning, Transportation
DO NOT FORGET A PROTEST IS PLANNED FOR THURSDAY 12-2 MAYORS OFFICE (ROTUNDA) TO PRESENT SIGNATURES, PETITIONS, ECT. SPONSORED BY THE La'a Aina Coalition