Journal story dents
The article takes the
island to task for an estimated
3,000 abandoned cars
Potholes close scenic road on KauaiBy Anthony Sommer
LIHUE, Kauai -- Kauai government and some business leaders were acting like they had taken a collective punch in the gut today from a front-page Wall Street Journal article detailing the history of the island's inability to deal with thousands of abandoned junk cars.
"The Wall street Journal? What's it doing in the Wall Street Journal?" asked Kauai Economic Development Board director Gary Baldwin, who immediately set out to buy a copy.
Mayor Maryanne Kusaka put out a prepared statement, but her office said she was too busy in a meeting to grant an interview.
"We have made every effort to address this matter with all the resources available to us," she said in her statement.
Not all the reaction was negative.
"The front page. That's good," said environmental activist Ray Chuan, who has been smiting the county regularly for what he perceives as its unwillingness to clean up an estimated 3,000 junk cars.
"Nobody can get her (Kusaka) to do anything," Chuan said. "Maybe this article will make her think about the problem seriously."
Kauai County Council Chairman Ron Kouchi said he hadn't seen the article and couldn't comment on it. He added he doesn't know whether the mayor's claim of "making every" effort is accurate or not.
"I do know the council offered money to hire a consultant and the offer was never accepted," Kouchi said.
Margy Parker, head of the Poipu Beach Resort Association -- the trade association for most of the island's major hotels -- said the article may tarnish Kauai's image but the junk cars are even more harmful.
Another story on the Journal's travel page today headlined, "The Other Side of Paradise," points to some trouble spots in Hawaii's attempt to boost tourism.
Staff reporter Laura Landro relates problems with airlines, rude employees and difficulties visiting Lanai and the Big Island.
"Bottom line: There are things to love about Hawaii, from its wild beauty to the way its cultural and spiritual history permeates life there," she writes.
"For Americans, it is paradise without passport. At both the resorts we visited, we left feeling like we wanted to come back.
"But we also learned that caveat emptor applies, even in the islands' most luxurious outposts, where we had some unpleasant surprises -- from conventioneers acting like rowdy frat boys to elegant hotels serving lousy food."
Star-Bulletin reporter Helen Altonn contributed to this report.
Large potholes causeBy Anthony Sommer
closure of scenic lookout
road on Kauai
KOKEE, Kauai -- A road leading to a popular scenic lookout and hiking trail head has been closed indefinitely because of a lack of money to patch massive potholes.
State Parks workers put a chain across Kokee Road just beyond the Kalalau Lookout about a month ago. The closure didn't receive any attention until fire department crews had to conduct two rescues beyond the chain last weekend.
Wayne Souza, Kauai district manager for the State Parks Division, said it's the first time since the road was paved in the 1960s that it has fallen into such disrepair that cars are unable to use it. In two low-lying spots it is impossible to drive the road without going into a large pothole.
The closure means visitors who want to see a view of Kalalau Valley from Puu o Kila Lookout a mile-and-a-half down the road from the chain must get there on foot.
And hikers who want to use the Pihea trail, famous for its view of the Kalalau Valley to the north and the Alakai Swamp to the south, also must walk the potholed road to reach the trail head just beyond Puu o Kila Lookout.
The closure is causing problems for the Kauai Fire Department, which was called in for two rescues on the Pihea Trail over President's Day weekend.
On Sunday, a fire crew had to cut the chain across the road to reach a woman with a broken ankle. State Parks officials said later the Fire Department has a master key to all of its locks, but the fire crew was unaware of it.
On Monday, a rescue helicopter was used to evacuate a pregnant woman who became ill while hiking the Pihea Trail.
Souza said wet weather and lack of manpower make it impossible to predict when the road will be repaired.
"If we patch it now, before the ground dries out, the patches will pop out in two days," he said.
And he has only three workers assigned to maintain the six state parks in the western half of Kauai.
"We have the equipment to fix the potholes ourselves," Souza said. "It's just a matter of finding the time to get a crew up there."