Preserve Wailua Beach

SUBHEAD:This letter is to urge our Mayor to only support new recreational facilities that don’t sacrifice our existing resources. By Malama Wailua on 12 September 2009 - Mahalo, Mayor Carvalho, for your serious consideration about saving Wailua Beach versus putting the bike path on it. image above: Painting titled "Mouth of Wailua River" by Kauai resident Isa Maria From This letter is to urge you to only support new recreational facilities that don’t sacrifice our existing resources. We cherish Wailua Beach and our host culture, and believe the mauka option at Wailua is the sensible course for the path. The next phase of the multi-use path has been designed to cross Wailua Beach, literally on the sand from Wailua River to the Shell station, in the form of a plastic-like boardwalk 14-feet wide. Federal stimulus money is attached to it, along with our tax dollars. It is unclear how the proposal passed an environmental assessment, given the highly changeable conditions of Wailua Beach and the river-mouth, the exposure to hurricanes and storms, the environmental fragility of all beaches and dunes — which, elsewhere, are rigorously protected by their communities — and global warming. To superimpose upon the beach a steady stream of joggers, bicycles, dog-walkers, strolling families, skateboarders and wheelchairs, and to then squeeze the parade around the makai side of the Shell station, onto Papaloa Road, then around Kintaro’s and across the highway (where a new traffic light would be installed where the new condos are) is hard to imagine. And with the overly taxed highway there (currently being widened on the Coco Palms side), it is not a safe route. Visually, we’d destroy our lovely beach and blue ocean vista. Why, you may ask, would they put it on the beach? Two reasons: 1) The beach is county/state property, so acquisition was easy and cheap. 2) The late Mayor Baptiste’s original “coastal” path idea is being taken too literally. We’re quite sure he would have frowned on the desecration of sacred Hawaiian sites. Which leads to the next piece... The entire Wailua area — the bay, the river, the sands, the shores around the bay and the shores of the river, all the way to the summit of Mount Wai‘ale‘ale are sacred, and always have been. The federal government has recognized two National Historic Registry sites within Wailua, with another in nomination. Not only is this one of Hawai‘i’s most revered cultural sites that, so far, has been preserved for the whole world to appreciate, but Kaua‘i kupuna are buried there. People working for the path project maintain that the community has supported this Wailua segment. But, aside from them, few can be found who favor the plan. Many of us have attended every meeting for the last three years, and were continuously told, “There will be future opportunities for more community input.” (This is what the Superferry people said, also.) On Dec. 4, 2008, there was a four-hour meeting at Lydgate Park, where dozens and dozens strongly objected to the path on the beach, while two lone voices supported it. We were told then that there would be another meeting soon, but there wasn’t — plans for the path continued as before. Now they say community input for the Wailua section of the path was completed in 2004; that this was a done deal five years ago. Yet still there’s another community meeting planned. Bringing community together for discussion, but ignoring what community has to say is Superferry-speak, tokenism, and creates resentment. Mayor Carvalho, our suggestion is to route the path to the already-paved cane road that runs behind Coco Palms, beside the canal. It is unused county/state land, it is open, it is incredibly beautiful, and is the perfect solution. With this alternative, you’ll save the beach and create a glorious new path. Doug Haigh, a path project manager, maintains that this was his original preference, and Thomas Noyes told us he is open to alternatives as long as the federal money isn’t lost. This mauka route will actually save money because the boardwalk won’t be built and the Papaloa/Kintaro maze can be forgotten. Plus, by routing people off the beach, we’ll be easing rather than worsening Wailua traffic. We have put a lot of time, research, consultation and thought into this suggestion. We have walked the alternative route numerous times with numerous people affiliated with the project or with the project’s impact. Mahalo for considering our views. How we protect the land, water and culture today is how we’ll continue tomorrow. Kaua‘i has nothing to “spare.” All new pavement and construction must be delicately finessed. Perpetuation of the culture and the environment must remain top priorities. Wendy Raebeck, Gordon LaBedz, Bradley John, Diana LaBedz, Ken Taylor for Malama Wailua see also" Ea O Ka Aina: Wailua Bike Path Meeting 8/11/09


Juan Wilson said...

Malama Wailua,

Thank you for carrying the torch on this issue. Beaches on Hawaiian islands are rarer than most people understand who have not lived here.

Violating a beach with a traffic lane (even for bicycles) is unreasonable and destructive to the natural beauty and spiritual integrity of Kauai.

Keep up your worthwhile work.


Anonymous said...


I understand OHA has recently taken a formal position against The Path on Wailua Beach with a letter to DOT/Fed, DOT/HI, and the Mayor. It's over, there's won't be The Path on the Beach. They just need to make it happen now either Mauka of Coco Palms or alongside the Hwy with barriers.

Post a Comment