Polihale access to be restored

SUBHEAD: Community volunteers plan to repair road access soon.

By Juan Wilson on 11 March 2009 for Island Breath - 

Image above: Bruce Pleas, with yellow coffee mug, makes a presentation to "demonstrators" at Polihale gate. All photos by Juan Wilson

Some good news and some bad news. The good news is that access to Polihale may begin again as soon as April. The bad news is that the DLNR has plans for Polihale. Remember the Kokee plan. Shudder to think. But more on that later.

Late last night I got an email from Brad Parsons. It was a forwarded message from Steve Bemjamin, of the Surfrider Foundation Kauai Chapter. It said in part:

"Sorry for the late notice, but I just found out; Senator Gary Hooser and DNLR chief Laura Theilan will be at Polihale Wednesday morning at 10 AM. Please show your support for open beach access! There has been talk that it may take 18 months to 2 years to reopen access."

I got to the locked access gate about 9:30am and there was no one in sight. Eventually people started trickling in. Most had only heard of the demonstration for access this morning. Soon a small crowd was talking story about the sorry history of management of the state park by the Hawaii State Department of Land & Natural Resources (DLNR). The talk also ranged to the plans of the Navy and Syngenta and their interest in secrecy and security.

Shortly before 10:00am Bruce Pleas arrived and kind of took over. Talk story time was over. He had some announcements. He instructed us to be polite and not give the DLNR a hard time over the closing off of access. Bruce described how he had worked out a solution with local volunteer contractors to repair the rutted road and damaged ditch crossings.

This was great news. Bruce also told us that he, a kayak operator, and a contractor would accompany Gary and the DLNR personnel, but that those gathered to support the open access were not invited due to the hazardous conditions

Bruce also told us that the DLNR had fixed the water pumps at Polihale (down for over a year) and that three of the five bathrooms were operational. This was DLNR pre-condition for re-opening the park. Had the DLNR gone through its normal procedures to repair the road and bridges it would have taken as long as two more years. Everybody seemed pleased with community action to get things going again. About that time Hawaii State Senator Gary Hooser arrived.

Bruce got some time with Gary Hooser and mentioned that there were other crucial things that needed to be done once the access road was open.
  1.  Establishing a life guard station at the park. YEA!
  2. Providing a toilet at Queen's Pond. YEA! (make it a solar powered composting toilet not chemical one)
  3. Putting up a kiosk at the entrance and screening park users BOO! Terrible idea - like the one in the DLNR master plan for Kokee.

Image above: Senator Hooser, right, speaks with Bruce Pleas, left

I jumped in with my two cents. I told Gary and Bruce that ever since the Lingle administration got in they have been running departments of government as if they were enterprises, not social services; profit centers, and not public resources. BOO!

This kiosk sounds like the bad old days of Peter Young as chairperson of DLNR with his master plan for Kokee. Remember the entry gate and fee. Last week I heard a Syngenta employee talk of a $15 dollar per car fee to get into the park.

This is the company that refused to pony up any money to fund road maintenance of the access road, yet uses the public road today to get to their north end GMO fields. Moreover, the DLNR was recently floating an idea to pave the road out to Polihale. BOOO!

Bruce is for the gate and not for the paving. Good but not good enough. Since he appears to be representing the "community" to the DLNR we need to get him some community ideas on plans for Polihale - both long and short term.

I would suggest that instead of a gate they go back to the arrangement I was familiar with back in the 70's at Polihale. The used to have at least one Parks & Recreation person stationed at the park daily. They tended the place and even took care of plants. They did not carry guns or wear the DLNR cop uniform. The park was beautifully maintained then.

Gary got on his cell phone and found out that Laura Theilen, The Chairperson of the DLNR was ill and could not make the meeting. Representing her for the DLNR would be its Chief Engineer, Eric Hirano, P.E. and State Park Program Director Steve Thompson.

< image above: Those going in - Left to right - F. "Bully" Mission (DLNR) Bruce Pleas, Steve Thompson (DLNR), Gary Hooser and Eric Hirano (DLNR).

As DLNR people arrived the crowd swelled to about forty people. They were generally pleased that the park could be opened again in as little as a few weeks. I suggest that we now get to work on shaping what the park might become, despite the military and corporate influence that competes with our desires.

Some things to consider:
  • All park power requirements generated by solar energy
  • A bike path (the planned 6" gravel roadway is mighty rough)
  • No signage for Queen's Pond area
  • No vehicles on the beach. (If you can't carry it to your campsite, don't take it with you)
  • Dune restoration (damaged by off-road vehicles)
  • Restoration of some wetlands where there is now abandoned sugarcane
  • Required contributions for park maintenance by the Navy subcontractors and GMO companies. (Raytheon, ITT, Syngenta, etc)
Contact Bruce Pleas at:
Email: brucepleas@hawaii.rr.co
Phone: 808-337-9509
Write: PO Box 721, Waimea HI 96796

See also:
Garden Island News: Polihale still closed 3/12.09
Island Breath: Poilhale Access Denied! 2/25/09
Island Breath: Polihale Access Closed - Then Opened 2/8/08

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