Commentary – Councilwoman Eoff on the Status of Kohanaiki Shoreline Park

Aloha,

I wanted to take this opportunity to provide some factual background information and to update you on the status of the Kohanaiki Shoreline Park, which will soon be dedicated to the County of Hawai‘i.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The park has been completed and the bathrooms and showers are now open to the public.  A new public access suitable for vehicular use has been completed from Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway, and then continues laterally along the shoreline going south to and beyond all the popular surfing spots and camping beaches.

Road and Parking:  The roadway and the parking areas are constructed according to a “Good Faith Agreement” negotiated in 2003 and under the direction of DLNR, the Army Corps of Engineers and the SMA permit.  The jeep trail was specifically required by DLNR to be converted to pedestrian access once the park road was complete to protect the beach and oceanfront from the negative impact of vehicular use.  Public access continues along the entire shoreline, with vehicular access to the turn-around south of the main bay, and from there, pedestrian (and bicycle) access to the National Park border along the Ala Kahakai trail.

Park Amenities and Camping:  New bathroom and shower facilities are completed, and the 17 portable luas will remain in place.  There are 122 parking stalls, located in nodes along the access road, with some overflow parking areas to be determined.  Once the park is dedicated to the County, camping will be permitted 5 days a week for up to 80 people per night.  Park hours for day use will be from 5:30 am – 9:00 pm.  A traditional hale is being constructed in the park for cultural educational opportunities.  There is a partnership in place including the County, landowners and community for monitoring of the park, security, maintenance and trash removal.

Anchialine Ponds: The pond management plan, approved by various governmental agencies, is being implemented under the supervision of the Army Corps of Engineers with ongoing restoration and maintenance. Non-native species have been removed and the ponds have been restored to a vibrant habitat.

Water Quality Monitoring Program: A comprehensive water quality-monitoring program, with input from the National Park, is in place to monitor the water quality for any potential impacts ofactivities at Kohanaiki.  A drainage system has been installed to direct all drainage away from the ocean and ponds.

Golf Course Management Program:  The golf course and landscaping is managed and certified under the Audubon Silver certification program – the only golf course to receive such certification in Hawai’i.  Brackish water is used for irrigation of the golf course and landscaping.  Primarily native, salt-tolerant species are being used for all landscaping.

Archeology:  Lineal descendants have been consulted and involved in identifying cultural sites. Informational signage on selected archeological sites such as the Ala Kahakai trail, will be placed to help educate the public.  A traditional hale is being constructed with full participation by community members where workshops and cultural activities will be conducted in the future.

For more information, please feel free to give me a call at 323-4280.  

Mahalo,

KAREN EOFF, Vice Chair, Hawai‘i County Council

District 8, North Kona

keoff@co.hawaii.hi.us

FOR ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON HOW THIS PARK CAME TO BE, PLEASE READ LETTER BELOW:

Letters 4-5-13

Kohanaiki access

The real story

Very soon, a public shoreline park will be dedicated to the people of Hawaii at Kohanaiki.

This park is the result of more than 25 years of legal battles addressing Native Hawaiian gathering and access rights, community stewardship efforts, and finally a negotiated settlement agreement. The Kohanaiki Ohana, led by Angel Pilago, won the fight to protect vehicular access along the shoreline after court victories all the way from the county level to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 2003, an important agreement was reached between developer/landowner, the community and the County of Hawaii determining the future of Kohanaiki.

The precedent- setting 2003 “good faith agreement” was considered a template by then Mayor Harry Kim; an innovative and unprecedented plan, forged in the spirit of aloha by those who participated in the process.

Under the agreement, the developer is required to donate approximately 108 acres to the public (the county being the preferred entity) and to construct a coastal park, with camping areas, 121 parking spaces, public toilets and showers, a halau for cultural education and activities, as well as a mauka/makai access road and lateral vehicular access road along the shoreline.

The current jeep trail will close to vehicles to meet federal and state requirements to take cars off of the ancient Ala Kahakai trail to help connect 150 miles of pedestrian trails around the island.

In its place, a new vehicular access road for public use has been constructed just inland of the jeep road and will be open to the public from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. per the terms of the agreement.

All of the anchialine ponds, trails and historic sites will be restored. There will be an innovative approach to monitoring and maintenance of natural and cultural resources.

The agreement calls for a public/private partnership in the form of a committee made up of representatives of the community, the landowner and the county with equal one-third decision-making power and also shared responsibility of costs and labor for maintenance.

In return, the developer is allowed to construct 500 homes and a golf course, a portion of which is located on the 108 acres, with an exclusive easement granted back to the landowner. The golf course also provides a buffer between the public coastal park and the homes, which are to be built an average of 700 feet from the shoreline. The golf course will be open to the public one day a week. All of the provisions of the good faith agreement were incorporated into the Shoreline Management Area use permit that was granted to the developer in 2003. There were 88 conditions placed on the SMA permit.

To understand the significance and importance of the good faith agreement, we must remember what could have happened at Kohanaiki given the zoning entitlements on the property since 1980.

In 2003, an article in West Hawaii Today reported the agreed upon plans were “a far cry from the sprawling resort planned for the property in the 1980s by Kona Beach Development Venture and developer Nansay Hawaii.”

Original development plans called for more than 800 hotel rooms, six story-high buildings, specialty restaurants, more than 1,000 condos and homes and a golf course to be built around the anchialine ponds and on the coastline.

Public access would have been like other hotels — had it not been for the efforts and commitment of our community and our community leaders to minimize the impact of development at Kohanaiki.

The Kona community has long advocated for residents to have a role in land use planning. Development at Kohanaiki demanded citizens to fight for our coastline; to protect those activities and access rights that are enjoyed by our community, our quality of life, cultural practices and the environment.

Credit must also be given to all involved, including the late Rep. Patsy Mink, Uncle Leon Sterling, and Herb Kane; community groups, such as the Kohanaiki Ohana, Na Keiki Hee Nalu, Hui Hee Nalu, Public Access Shoreline Hawaii and Wave Riders Against Drugs; lineal and cultural descendants of the area; community leaders and elected representatives Virginia Isbell, Curtis Tyler, Pilago, Harry Kim and Billy Kenoi; Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, Sierra Club Legal Defense, Surfrider Foundation; local residents, businesses, attorneys and advisors; and especially the keiki surfers who continue to make us realize the importance of places like Kohanaiki.

The Kohanaiki Shoreline Park is the result of years of legal battles, collaboration and negotiation, and represents a willingness on the part of all stakeholders to share in the stewardship of this very special place.

Today, this same community that fought and won landmark Supreme Court cases to protect public access and gathering rights, that shaped the path of development on this land, can be proud of the coastal park that will soon be dedicated to the County of Hawaii to be enjoyed in perpetuity by future generations.

Rebecca Villegas

President

Kohanaiki Ohana

 

 

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