Mayor Arakawa Speaks Freely to Kihei Community Association

Thursday, March 02, 2006
 
Joseph W. Bean

Traffic, water supply, parks and a new high school, were some of the South Maui topics tackled by the mayor at the recent KCA meeting.

Mayor Alan Arakawa performed like a dyed-in-the-wool star at the February community meeting of the Kihei Community Association (KCA). KCA, as association President David Frazier puts it, “is rapidly becoming a bandwagon of activism and community service. Get on board!”

At the next meeting of KCA, the speakers will be County Council budget and finance chair Dain Kane and South Maui’s Councilmember Michelle Anderson. Their appearance at KCA will be a full week after they have officially seen the mayor’s budget for fiscal year 2007. All South Maui residents are urged to attend the meeting. Meantime, Arakawa wasn’t shy about explaining the priorities South Maui can expect to see emphasized in the new budget.

The evening opened, as usual, with announcements. The executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Maui, Colin Hanlon, and a staff member spoke of the success they are having in controlling activities at the Kalama Park skate park. They also asked for adults to support their young monitors. They explained at an earlier Kalama Park Action Team meeting that they are trying to get more helmets for skaters, but they added the call for adult volunteers.

Joe Bertram III spoke of a change in the perspective involved in Maui planning of roads. The shift, he said, is from cars-first and fast-as-possible traffic patterns to pedestrian safety as the No. 1 priority.

The Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission also presented a rough idea of their plans for the land they lease from the state by the Kihei Boat Ramp.

Mayor Alan Arakawa answered questions from those attending the meeting. He prefaced his talk with this: “If I don’t answer your question completely, please let me know, and I’ll try to complete the answer for you.”

He was asked where the proposed Kihei High School will be built. It is coming and he was able to display a map (see photo on page 2) of what he believes is the most likely site. “All of this has to be approved by the council,” Arakawa said. He also explained that the 150-acre site mauka of Pi‘ilani Highway, meant to accommodate South Maui’s need for a high school, a police station and a homeless shelter, is not all usable land. He also mentioned that Everett Dowling is working on other ideas. “You cannot build one continuous campus here,” but it is a place that a high school can be situated. Many people during and after the meeting expressed hopes that the site plan would be changed before actual planning and groundbreaking.

When questioned about whether Maui has sufficient water supply, the mayor answered without hesitation. “On Maui, we actually have an estimated 800 million gallons per day of water available. Right now, we use 30 million gallons domestically.” Any “drought” or shortage, he explained, “was from not developing and properly managing supply.”

A South Maui resident wanted to know why parks, especially restrooms in parks, are not better maintained. “We do spend a lot of money in this area, but I can’t mandate…,” the mayor said. What it amounted to is that the mayor can’t force people to behave decently or put the seat up when using the toilet. “There’s no law that I can create,” he said, “that says people cannot be stupid.” Vandalism and sloppy users, he said, are the problem.

Another citizen asked why he has not yet seen solar power on the roof of any of the county’s public buildings. The mayor said that alternative-energy options are being considered, but solar power for county buildings is too expensive at this point.

When the discussion turned to the long anticipated South Maui Regional Park, the mayor said he hoped the first phase of the park’s development will be in the 2007 budget as passed by the County Council. (Remember that next month’s KCA meeting features the budget chair and South Maui’s councilmember.)

A question about when a roundabout might actually be built on Maui drew a more definite answer. “It’s in design right now,” Arakawa said, explaining that a “test roundabout” is in the works for the intersection of Pi‘ikea and Liloa near Safeway.

There were, of course, more questions than can be reported here. About 170 South Maui people showed up for this meeting, but the room could accommodate at least 350.

Here are a few of the other questions with very abbreviated answers:

What if all state roads were put under county control? That would be good. The mayor would like having all roadways together in one plan, “provided they send the money with” the road authority.

Can we be assured that parks assessment money collected from local developers will be spent here? South Maui, Arakawa said, “can be very assured of that.”

Will Kihei get a new hospital? The mayor responded: We’re waiting for state-level determination about where a new hospital will be built—South Maui, Central Maui, or both—but it is needed.

What about the exporting of sand from Maui to O‘ahu? The mayor is asking council to put a stop to it.

The mayor called on Don Couch, Rob Parsons and other members of his team to supply information as he answered questions. Then he and many of his administration associates stayed after the meeting to take more questions.

The next community meeting of the KCA will be Tuesday, March 21, at the Kihei Community Center. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and the meeting will be 6:30 to 8 p.m. Kalama Park Action Team meets at 5:30. Beverages and pupu will be provided.

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About Andrew

a KCA Board Member and volunteer who enjoys life in South Maui.

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