Waimea Canyon plans flawed, residents say
LIHUE » After five years and nearly a dozen public meetings, the master plan for state parks that encompass Kauai's Waimea Canyon still needs work, residents told members of the Department of Land and Natural Resources last night.
The meeting, which was held both to give an update on the master plan for the Kokee and Waimea Canyon state parks, and dispel rumors swirling around the plan, was attended by several hundred, with at least 50 speakers.
The state was looking into a number of possibilities for the adjoining parks, which cover 6,182 acres of land at an elevation starting at about 3,000 feet. The ideas ranged from taking back certain services to charging admission. Even a 90-room hotel was proposed.
But the majority of the speakers implored DLNR Chairman Peter Young, members of his staff and the consultants putting together the plan to keep Kokee as pristine as possible.
"Keep it simple," said David Boynton, who has worked in the Kokee Discovery Center for 13 years. "Fix the roads, fix the bathrooms. The rest, leave it like it is."
The current master plan, as presented last night, would allow the state to build an entry gate; charge admission to nonresidents; fix the roads, bathrooms and signs; and add paved parking stalls at a number of the lookouts.
While all of residents expressed relief to hear that the hotel and gate proposals had been eliminated from the master plan, a number balked at charging a fee to enter the jewel of Kauai's interior.
Marsha Erickson, a longtime volunteer in the parks, said the current proposal "is a place card at the table" and that the public needs to make specific, detailed proposals to the DLNR to help form the future of the park.
One issue not discussed at length is the future of the Kokee cabins, where lessees have sued the state to retain possession of them.
He said any public input is welcome, but the deadline for comments on the environmental impact statement, which includes the master plan, is Feb. 8. The entire plan is available on the DLNR's Web site, and public comments can be e-mailed to the DLNR at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Board of Land and Natural Resources will eventually get the chance to vote on the plan, at a meeting to be held on Kauai in the spring or summer.