Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Operator of Kauai
rescue copters evicted

By Anthony Sommer

PORT ALLEN, Kauai >> The state Airports Division has given Inter-Island Helicopters, which operates Kauai's only rescue helicopter service under the name Air-1, until the close of business today to move out of Burns Field, also known as Port Allen Airport.

In addition to the Kauai Fire Department, Inter-Island has contracts with the Kauai Police Department to search for marijuana fields and with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to transport work crews to remote sites. Its helicopters are the only ones on Kauai rigged for rescue work and its pilots the only ones certified to fly with night-vision goggles.

The company also runs tours for visitors.

Dennis Imamura, manager of Inter-Island, said yesterday the company has no immediate plans to move. It wasn't clear if the state is prepared to go to court to force the eviction.

The Airports Division allowed Inter-Island to move onto the airport after the company lost its lease on an adjoining property two years ago.

The state then attempted to obtain an after-the-fact special management permit from the Kauai County Planning Commission. Wilma Holi, a member of one of several Hawaiian families that use the nearby salt ponds, sued the state, claiming its environmental assessment was flawed. The court agreed with her.

The state wrote a new assessment and reapplied to Kauai County in July but there has been no action.

Meanwhile, the county cited the state because there is no permit for Inter-Island's equipment at the field.

State officials apparently have agreed and told Inter-Island to move its 8,000-gallon fuel tank off the airfield along with its trailer office.

State officials said Inter-Island can continue to use two helipads at the airport and position a fuel tanker truck there. It offered the company storage space for its helicopters at Lihue Airport but no pads to pick up tourists. Inter-island refused.

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