Maui Weekly | February 16, 2009 | Scott Broadbent

In reviewing the last four Maui County budgets, Kihei Community Association (KCA) President Jon Miller said South Maui has gotten the “short end of the stick.” At the Tuesday, Jan. 20, KCA meeting, Miller and KCA board members urged attendees to identify specific concerns and needs in Kihei to share with Mayor Charmaine Tavares and the Maui County Council in the next budget process.

KCA board members presented pre-determined issues, which were followed by roundtable discussions among attendees. Each group then presented its issues and recommendations.

Miller revealed the results of his study of the county budget. “In 2005 and 2006, South Maui generated an estimated one-third of county funds,” he said. “About four percent came back to Kihei-Makena in district-specific capital improvements. Central Maui received nearly half.” In recent years, he pointed out, South Maui has begun to receive a “more reasonable piece of the pie.”

Another indicator of budget priorities, said Miller, is the allocation of park employees. “Clearly, in South Maui, we have a lot of park usage,” he said. “Yet in past years, only about 10 percent of the park employees have been working in our parks. This shows why it is so important for us all to be involved in the process.”

KCA Vice President Mike Moran discussed environmental issues. “We intend to ask for $5 million to improve our wastewater system,” he said. “Where does that water go from our toilets and showers? The majority, after it has been purified, is injected into wells which runs to the ocean and hurts our coral and other wildlife.”

Moran said the KCA wants the county funding to expand use of wastewater for irrigating golf courses and landscaping and curtail injection wells. Moran also said the KCA will request $84,000 to continue the “Pump Don’t Dump” efforts at Ma‘alea Harbor and the Kihei Boat Ramp, aimed at providing sewage pump facilities for boats and ending the practice of dumping into the ocean.

Don Couch addressed transportation issues facing Kihei. During the Arakawa administration, he said, construction was ready to begin on a north-south collector road that would alleviate traffic congestion on South Kihei Road and Pi‘ilani Highway.

“The federal funds were pulled away,” Couch said. He suggested the county consider ways to move the project forward without additional funding from federal or state sources. He also reiterated the need for pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly planning for transportation in South Maui, the importance of safe routes for children to take to schools and the KCA’s commitment to constructing roundabouts as alternatives to four-way stops.

Bob Richardson shared the KCA’s positions on the status, upkeep and expansion of South Maui Parks. “We support efforts to build the Kama‘ole Point Pavilion,” he said, and indicated the need for funding for the pedestrian “figure eight” pathway through Kalama Park. In addition, he said, “We need to get started on phase one of the South Maui Regional Park,” which, he reminded attendees, would be a 10-year process.

Educational issues and the prospect of a new Kihei High School have simmered in South Maui for decades. Andrew Beerer urged residents “not to take their eye off the prize.” While there is no doubt Kihei needs a high school, he said, “The timeline is being pushed back. We will be lucky to see a new school by 2015.” He vowed that KCA will keep the pressure on. Beerer also expressed KCA’s support for Kihei Charter School and the Kihei Youth Center. He said KCA advocates free bus service for students, similar to the system in Kahului, and expansion of the YMCA after-school program.

Following the presentations, the attendees broke up into discussion groups to expand on the ideas presented and develop additional budgetary issues.

“What is important to you?” asked Miller. “What have we missed?”

In their reports, group spokespersons reinforced the ideas presented by KCA board members and added additional priorities. Each group suggested seeking funding for community gardens to increase sustainability efforts, wisely utilize resources and beautify the community.

“We would like to see more bathrooms at parks,” said Mark Coronesi. “We also think there should be lifeguards at Makena Beach,” which, he said, is clearly one of the most dangerous beaches in Hawai‘i. “We would also like to see continuation of the turtle fence,” which was begun along Kealia Pond to keep turtles from wandering onto North Kihei Road. Coronesi said his group would like to see more accountability for what is funded and when and where funds are allocated.

Lynda Farrell said her group supported the ideas presented by KCA and advocated keeping the north-south collector road “pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly,” and seeking additional county funding for maintenance at South County Parks.

Additional issues raised included improving storm drainage along South Kihei Road, constructing more sidewalks throughout Kihei, securing funding to support community associations, improving recycling efforts, seeking more and better healthcare facilities, requesting voter-approved bonds for special projects and acquiring additional beachfront property for the parks system.

The KCA also announced its officers for the fiscal year: Jon Miller, president; Mike Moran and Bob Richardson, vice presidents; and Bob Pickering, secretary.

There will be no KCA meeting in February. KCA officials hope to announce the dates of upcoming meetings soon.