Ask The Mayor
Q: The tennis court in Haliimaile really needs attention . . . It seems like it has been abandoned by the Parks & Recreation Department. The net is sagging, the grass is growing through the defunct fence onto the court, and the fence itself is full of holes and cuts. The doors do not close properly, the pavement is cracked and the weeds are “having fun” growing all over. Thank you for listening.
A: I’m an avid tennis player myself, and I try to get on the court about three times a week in the early mornings. Having said that, the reality is that it will be very expensive to rehabilitate the Haliimaile Tennis Court. In fact, this tennis court cannot simply be repaired, it must be completely rebuilt at an estimated cost of $275,000 plus additional costs for potential Americans With Disabilities Act accessibility modifications that may be required. Funds are not available to carry out the project this fiscal year, but the Department of Parks & Recreation is creating a comprehensive list of needed facility repairs and “tennis courts” is one of the categories. In fact, now is the perfect time to voice your priorities for the county’s next fiscal year budget, including parks projects, as we are gearing up for the next budget cycle. Please send an email to email@example.com to suggest funding priorities for my fiscal year 2015 budget proposal, which will be submitted to the County Council early next year for consideration.
Q: My question is regarding the total disregard for safety for individuals that use the Mokulele Highway bike path by individuals on motorized scooters (with license plates) that routinely speed up and down the bike path at 35-45 mph, putting cyclists, walkers and runners in harm’s way. I have yet to see any citations given out, and I use this path almost daily at different times of the day during the week and on weekends. Is it going to take someone getting run over by one of these scooters for this issue to be taken seriously? There is a nice, wide shoulder for these motorized vehicles to use and yet, they insist on using the bike path. I believe that the police need to enforce the law that states that “motorized vehicles” are not allowed to use the path.
A: Mokulele Highway is a state highway, and under Hawaii Revised Statutes 291C-197, motorized mopeds or scooters are allowed to travel on bicycle paths or lanes where provided. In fact, the law specifies that “wherever bicycle lanes are provided on the roadway, moped drivers shall use such bicycle lanes.” Riders must follow the signs that are posted, and police can cite if a violation is observed. People may call the Maui Police Department’s nonemergency number (244-6400) to report violations, and an officer will be dispatched to check on complaints. However, the counties can, by ordinance, restrict or prohibit the use of mopeds on bicycle paths under county jurisdiction, such as on the Kihei greenway and the north shore bikeway, where mopeds are forbidden to be driven under Maui County Traffic Code, Article 1, Chapter 10.52.270 as amended by the County Council in 2011.
**Correction: A scooter above 50cc bearing a license plate must travel on the highway and a scooter under 50cc, which must have a bicycle license, must travel on a bicycle path where available, the Mayor’s Office said.
The engine-power distinction was not made in the Ask the Mayor column, which appeared on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013.
Ask The Mayor
Q: Over the past 15 years, my family and I have moved up the water meter list from 650 to the top 50. My husband comes from a longtime kamaaina family, and it’s been frustrating to have to wait so long without being able to build or even prepare the land. We had hoped to retire by now, but the lack of a water meter means we will have to keep working to be able to build a house on our family property in Haiku. With interest rates on the rise again, we are faced with even greater pressures to move forward, and we can’t afford a $100,000 well to get our own water like the big developers can. What’s the prognosis for any Upcountry water meters to be released in the near future? Mahalo for looking into this.
A: The Hamakuapoko wells are scheduled to be operational before the end of the year. After that, we expect to offer water meters based on the increased capacity of the system. Because each application is different, and some people will accept the meters and some will not, it is impossible to predict exactly how much of the list will be processed. However, Department of Water Supply staff are expecting to get through several hundred, so you should be offered a meter. As there are so many applications and each application is unique, it will take several months at minimum to complete this process. Additionally, once the reconstruction of Waikamoi Flume is completed, our Upcountry water system is expected to retain approximately 40 percent more water that is currently being lost due to the numerous leaks in the decaying redwood flume that was built in the mid-1930s. In fact, the original Waikamoi water collection system was developed in 1908, and first replaced and upgraded when the County of Maui Territorial Government constructed the redwood flume. The last major replacement of sections of the wooden flume took place in 1974-1975. In the long term, the increased reliability of the Upcountry water delivery system is expected to help residents avoid seasonal drought restrictions and allow us to distribute even more water meters. To learn more, you can watch a short YouTube video produced by my office. Simply type “Waikamoi flume” into the YouTube search bar.
Q: Why are people using the county community centers for events allowed to stay past the time limit on the rental agreement? I always thought the county had someone there at a certain time to make sure the center was closed according to the rental agreement.
A: Rental hours for events held at county community centers end at 10 p.m., then facility users have an hour to clean up – until 11 p.m., the official curfew time when the exterior gates are locked. The Department of Parks and Recreation does not have the personnel to individually staff each location so they make rounds to all of the different facilities during the evening, and again after the events, to lock up.
Q: I was wondering if the county owns the rights to the 2.5-mile or so cinder-block wall that goes from Puunene Avenue around the corner and down Kuihelani Highway. I drive by that long wall numerous times a week, as do other residents and visitors. I believe that wall could be a wonderful mural to look at vs. plain cinder block with occasional graffiti. My thoughts: Engage local artists to donate time and talent, engage businesses to donate materials, and engage juveniles (with supervision and help of the artists) who need to perform community service. Do you know who owns the wall and if a mural of local wildlife, marine life, plants, etc. would be acceptable to the owner?
A: Kuihelani Highway is owned and maintained by the state, thus the county does not have jurisdiction over the wall. The idea you mention could be a nice addition to the drive to Lahaina. Please contact the state Department of Transportation Highways Division (www.hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/) to inquire whether a project of that nature might be considered.
Ask The Mayor
Q: An organization I belong to will be hosting a fashion show fundraiser where food and wine will be served. Since it’s a one-time event, do we still need to get a permit to serve alcohol?
A: Yes, charitable or educational not-for-profit organizations, political parties and candidates seeking public office should apply for a special license, which is granted by the Director of Liquor Control. Secondly, a permit would need to be obtained for events such as fashion shows, beauty pageants, trade shows, product tastings and other events at which alcohol will be served. Applications for special liquor licenses and liquor permits may be downloaded from the county website at www.mauicounty.gov/liquor; click on Licensing Applications.
Q: I am curious about two subjects here in West Maui: 1. The horrendous stench in Kaanapali and in Honokowai on the upper road. It is absolutely unbearable some days; and 2. The ongoing construction in Kaanapali every afternoon, why is it not done in the evenings? The congestion is bad! Please explain and let me know if you have a solution to these problems. Thank you for your time, and aloha.
A: Both of your inquiries are related to Department of Environmental Management projects: 1. Over the past month, the Wastewater Reclamation Division completed a major repair to wastewater processing equipment in the treatment plant. That process involved the draining of a processing tank of some 4 million gallons of wastewater, removal of grit and organic material at the bottom of the tank and the replacement of internal equipment. The repairs should be done within the next week or two. 2. A sewer line along Honoapiilani Highway is being replaced from Kaanapali Parkway to the area fronting the Fairway Shops. Because the underground material is all rock, heavy machinery is required to install the new sewer line (i.e., use of a hoe ram, or jackhammer), which makes a lot of noise. Therefore, the work cannot be done at night. The project is scheduled for completion within the next three months.
Q: My son goes to a sitter, but he’s almost ready for preschool. My husband and I both work, but it’s still so expensive! Does the county have anyone to give me advice about child care centers or tuition assistance so we can make an informed decision?
A: Yes, the County of Maui Early Childhood Center, a program of the Department of Housing & Human Concerns, can help. The center works in partnership with Maui Family Support Services Inc. to offer information and resources about issues that impact families with young children and to implement the Maui County Child Care Subsidy for working parents. To inquire about the subsidy, call 242-1608. The county’s Early Childhood Center also has a free lending library with resources for parents, caregivers and providers; it includes information on choosing quality child care. Early Childhood Coordinator Kaina Bonacorsi also helps guide and support the development of a coordinated system of early childhood services in Maui County, for young children up to 8 years old. Kaina will be able to inform you of any current initiatives that may impact your family’s situation and child care choices. The County of Maui Early Childhood Center is located at 251 Napua St. in Wailuku (across from Ichiban Okazuya). To reach Kaina, call 270-5557 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ask The Mayor
Q: Hansen Road is heavily used as the de facto bypass between Mokulele and Hana highways. It also serves as the link between Central Maui and the landfill, and to several large industrial enterprises, including Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. Puunene Mill. Lastly, it also is used as part of the shortcut between Upcountry and Central Maui. Hansen Road is in deplorable condition and is very dangerous. Why is it not being completely renovated, let alone even being adequately maintained? This problem has been ignored for years and kicked down the road. What are the plans, if any, for making Hansen Road a safe and efficient part of Maui’s ground transportation system? Thank you for addressing this pressing problem.
A: Indeed, this is a vital artery on many levels. The Department of Public Works has secured federal funds to help pay for improvements to Hansen Road. The project has been declared a federal aid project and is scheduled to be advertised for bids late next year with construction expected to start in the spring of 2015. The project will include the reconstruction of Hansen Road between the HC&S driveway just west of Spanish Road to Hana Highway.
Q: With the latest round of ramped-up speed enforcement, how much of the ticket proceeds stay on Maui? How much extra did it cost Maui County in overtime or related costs?
A: All fines generated from citations go to the state General Fund; no counties benefit from the citations, stepped-up enforcement efforts or any proceeds relating to traffic fines. Furthermore, no county funds are utilized for these efforts. Maui Police Department’s Traffic Section receives grant funding from the state Department of Transportation for overtime hours to conduct various traffic enforcement programs. The collection and appropriation of fines fall under the state Judiciary.
Q: I am wondering why in the name of Pele does the County of Maui and its Police Department require a military assault vehicle in its possession, and why was this prioritized over the real needs of Maui?
A: First off, I would like to point out that the Bearcat is not a “military assault vehicle.” Rather, it is an armored vehicle designed to protect our officers in tactical and/or hostile situations, as well as to extract civilians from a hostile environment. According to Police Chief Gary Yabuta, it is a significant tool utilized by a majority of police departments, including the Honolulu Police Department, Hawaii County Police Department and, very soon, the Kauai Police Department. One incident that police could have used the Bearcat was during the 50-hour standoff situation involving Josiah Okudara two years ago. Our officers surrounded the residence on Opukea Street in Kahului where he was located and evacuated the neighborhood. Although no one was injured, our officers placed themselves in the line of fire many times, because there was no proper cover in the middle of the street. During the standoff there was a real danger presented, as multiple gunshots were heard from within the residence where Okudara was located. Thankfully, those shots were not aimed at our officers or anyone else outside the residence. During that incident, the Bearcat could have served as a safe point of cover and could have assisted in evacuating residents as well. This vehicle is a valuable asset that can protect both our officers and the public from dangerous situations. However, I will say that I hope the occasions that we actually have to use it are few and far between.
Ask The Mayor
Q: I’m not sure who to ask, but maybe you can point me in the right direction. I’m going to be cremated and would like my daughter to bring my ashes to Maui to sprinkle them. We spent several years coming to Maui and whale watching, so this would be my ideal resting place. I need to know if this is possible, and if so, what needs to be done to bring me to the island.
A: The sprinkling of ashes, also referred to as a burial at sea, is a common practice in Hawaii. Local families paddle out on canoes, surfboards, kayaks or boats to gather in a circle to remember their loved one before sprinkling the cremains and some fragrant flowers into the water. It is a beautiful memorial that does not require any county or state permits to conduct.
Q: Every Tuesday and Friday mornings we are awakened somewhere between 4:45 and 5:30 a.m. when our rubbish is collected. As an adult it is quite easy to be annoyed and then go back to sleep until it’s time to get up, but it’s not that easy for children. After the pickup, the loud banging of cans, the beeping from reversing and turning around – and then the pickup from the other side (about five minutes total) – my young child and many others in our Wahikuli (Lahaina) neighborhood are wide awake and often crying. Is there a way our trash collectors could wait until 6 a.m. to pick up the trash – for the sake of our kids?
A: Thank you for sharing your concerns. The county’s refuse collection program only collects single-family residential trash. The union contract limits the number of pickups per day, the route for refuse pickup and the hours of operation. By union contract, the crews’ starting time in West Maui is 5 a.m., and we have reminded our staff of this. The routes for residential refuse collection take into consideration fuel and time efficiency. The refuse collected in West Maui is trucked to the Central Maui Landfill with a maximum of two trips per day, which means that time efficiency is critical. While it could be possible to modify your refuse collection route to a later start time, it would come at the expense of time and fuel efficiency and, ultimately, the cost of service.
Q: When do you plan to repair Kenolio Road? The section between Ohukai and Kaonoulu Road is in dire need. Also, are there any plans to connect the nice new bike trail from Piilani Shopping Center to Kenolio Road? There is a large tax base of working folks who live in Kihei Villages, Southpointe and Kaonoulu subdivision that would appreciate the connection to our nearest shopping center. It seems that we should be able to walk or ride to the Piilani shops.
A: Good news! Our Kenolio Road resurfacing project will open for bids Oct. 15. The scope of the project runs from Ohukai to Kaonoulu roads; construction is anticipated to start around spring/summer 2014. The existing bike lanes on Kenolio Road between East Alulike and Kaonoulu streets will be retained and restriped. The section between Ohukai Road and East Alulike Street cannot accommodate full-width bike lanes so the vehicular travel lanes will be marked as shared lanes for use by both vehicles and bicycles. In response to the question as to why the bike paths end abruptly, the short answer is funding availability, which usually allows the county to do only small sections at a time. In the future, we are planning to extend the bike path to the south from Lipoa Street to Welakahao Road. We can look into extending the bike path toward Kenolio Road.