Ask The Mayor
Q: Is the county going to be running extended Maui Bus schedules this Halloween? I rode it last year and it was great, but I haven’t seen anything posted this year.
A: Yes, we are running extended Maui Bus schedules for Halloween this year. No reservations are required. Bus passes cost $2 or you can pay $4 for an all-day pass. The two routes serving the Lahaina area that night are the Ka’anapali Islander Route 25 and Napili Islander Route 30. The Ka’anapali Islander is on a regular schedule until 3:30 p.m., then it begins making runs every 30 minutes to the Wharf Cinema Center and making stops at Papalaua/Wainee, Lahaina Cannery Mall and Whalers Village. The last bus will be at 10:30 p.m. and heading toward Whalers Village. The Napili Islander will be on a regular schedule until 9 p.m. and then will run every hour from Whalers Village. The last bus will be at 11 p.m. and be Napili-bound. For more information call 871-4838.
Q: What’s going on with the Real Property Tax maps that were available online? I tried looking up parcel information and had a lot of trouble doing so.
A: Yes, we had a glitch in the system last week. The problem has been reported to the vendor, and they are working to resolve the issue.
Q: I saw the pictures of the mayor and council members playing softball somewhere in Waikapu and a Maui News story talking about a new park in Central Maui. When is that park going to be ready for kids to play? We need more practice fields out there in the community.
A: The Central Maui Regional Park is a 209-acre parcel that we hope will one day be Maui’s main sports complex. Some have compared it to the Waipio Soccer Complex on Oahu but this park will be for all sports, including but not limited to soccer. The build-out for the park will consist of four to six different phases with Phase 1 of construction tentatively scheduled for fiscal year 2016. Right now, we are hoping to have a portion of the park graded so we can take the grass from War Memorial Stadium and replant it there to create a practice field before the park is even built. That way when the stadium field is replaced with sports turf, we will have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of sod and used it to build something useful for the community. Those plans are tentative, however, and we are still waiting to hear if it can be done.
* Want to Ask the Mayor? Submit your Maui County related questions to Mayor Alan Arakawa by email at “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com, by phone at 270-7855 or by mail at 200 S. High St., ninth floor, Wailuk 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column; to request a personal response to a concern, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ask The Mayor
Q: I recently moved to Kihei from the Mainland. Why isn’t there a road connecting Piilani Highway with Kula Highway? It takes approximately 40 minutes to drive from Kihei to Kula going north through Kahului, but it would only take a fraction of the time to get to Kula if a road ran between Kihei and Kula. Thank you for your consideration.
A: The state Department of Transportation has a plan for a highway project linking these two communities with a new 9.6-mile, rural two-lane highway. Because it is a major project and funding is limited, the project has been split into three phases. Estimated cost for the phases at current land and construction costs are $80 million for phase 1, $70 million for phase 2, and $50 million for phase 3. Construction is tentatively scheduled for fiscal year 2015, subject to availability of funds. To view a map of the proposed route, visit www.mauicounty. gov/mayor and click on “Mayor’s Update.”
Q: If you have occasion to drive along Pulehu Road, you will often see tumbleweeds on the side of the road bordering a fence or on the road itself. These large, thorny weeds first started to become a problem many years ago, and it has just gotten worse. Even the axis deer in the area do not eat the weed. This weed is a definite road hazard because if you do not see the plant and hit the weed with your bumper, you can move the plant with your car. This simple action results in spreading the seeds throughout the Pulehu area. Also, cars often swerve in an attempt to avoid a tumbleweed in the road. As the plant is covered with sharp thorns, most motorists would be hesitant to remove the road hazard unless they had a rake or other tool handy. I noticed that tumbleweeds are not on the list of identified plant pests being controlled by the Maui Invasive Species Committee. Do you know if there are any plans to address this serious environmental issue?
A: Tumbleweed, also known as Russian thistle, is native to Eurasia. It has become a costly impediment to farmers and does indeed pose a safety risk to drivers. Spread of this weed occurs when the mature plant breaks off at the ground and tumbles across the landscape, depositing thousands of seeds along the way. Roadside surveys have shown that the distribution of tumbleweed on Maui has greatly increased with the loss of actively managed pineapple lands, and it is becoming increasingly common in areas Upcountry. The Maui Invasive Species Committee says that tumbleweed on Maui has long been considered to be beyond eradication based on its ability to reproduce extensively and its wide-spread distribution. However, MISC is exploring options for developing a cooperative management strategy with affected landowners to help reduce roadside hazards. Control options include mowing down seedlings or using herbicide during the plant’s early growth stages; pre-emergent herbicides also may be effective along roadways. Efforts are also underway to find an effective natural enemy, but biocontrol facilities at the Hawaii Department of Agriculture are limited, thus slowing the process.
Q: Any chance our beautiful county pools could stay open later a couple of days a week (or every weekday)? Perhaps even charge a small fee to use them in the evening? It would be so worth it. Thanks for your consideration.
A: That’s the same question many others have been asking, according to a survey our parks department recently conducted. The challenge is finding practice time in the pool for youth swim clubs and adult swim leagues, so we will need to work together to find a solution that meets the needs of both competitive and recreational swimmers. Since we are still gathering community input for the fiscal year 2015 budget, please take a moment to voice your support for funding evening pool hours by emailing email@example.com.
Ask The Mayor
Q: We went to Palauea Beach yesterday and saw survey stakes and orange fencing that had been put up around two small areas. I remember the public’s fight to save Palauea years ago and read that the county was able to buy two lots. What is the county’s plan for the lots it purchased and will the other lots eventually have more mega-mansions, thereby losing another beach? Thank you.
A: The county did indeed acquire two parcels at Palauea Beach. According to our Planning Department, the county does not have plans to purchase additional parcels in the area or to make any improvements there, such as restrooms or parking, but it is my understanding that the public nonetheless uses these county-owned lots to access and enjoy the beach. Some privately owned and undeveloped lots have received some of the necessary permits to build homes, so it is possible that there will be homes built in the future. There also are ongoing archaeological and environmental surveys being conducted in the area as part of the permitting process. Either of these actions could be the reason for the orange fencing.
Q: On Tuesday or Wednesday, the lifeguard station at D.T. Fleming Beach was scheduled to be demolished. This station in particular is an icon in our small westside community, as it bears a mural of a beloved longtime resident who passed away in 2007, Ron Cassidy. This may not seem an important issue in the big scheme of things but to people who frequent this location and live in our community, it is. Is there a way the mural can be saved? Thank you for your time and consideration.
A: Thank you for asking about this, as I have heard a lot of misinformation being circulated in the community. More than three years ago, several county lifeguards asked our Risk Management Division to inspect the tower for safety considerations. After the inspection, Risk Management recommended the replacement of the tower with a new tower similar to the other portable towers in use in Maui County. To keep the public and our lifeguards safe, a new, state-of-the-art tower was requisitioned and purchased, and, in fact, was specially designed by the manufacturer as a new, larger-capacity model called the “Maui Tower.” The tower has been delivered to D.T. Fleming Beach and was installed Friday, with all logistics planned to allow work crews to carry out the demolition, delivery and installation of the new tower in a timely and coordinated manner. As for the beautiful mural painted by acclaimed local artist Ronaldo Macedo, it was carefully removed prior to demolition and plans are being made for the permanent installation of this meaningful tribute to a beloved member of our community. To view photos of the mural and the new tower, visit my blog on the county website: www.mauicounty.gov/mayor; click on “Mayor’s Update.”
Q: Do you know which stretches of Kamehameha, Hina, Papa and Wakea avenues will be improved with federal aid funds for reconstruction?
A: Yes, the first federal aid-funded pavement rehabilitation project was on Lono Avenue and ran between Kamehameha Avenue and Laau Street; it was completed in September 2012. Motorists may have noticed work recently on the second project on Wakea Avenue between Puunene and Kaahumanu avenues. The project is expected to be completed in December. Also currently under construction is the Kamehameha and Hina project; targeted completion is January. Papa Avenue will be reconstructed next year, as well as Wakea Avenue (continuation) and Wells Street. Additionally, Lono Avenue Phase 2 is currently being designed, with an expected construction start date of January 2015. All of these projects incorporate full-depth reconstruction (about 14 inches deep), which typically adds 15 to 20 years of extended life span to the roads compared to standard overlays. To view a map of the pavement rehabilitation projects being conducted on some of Maui’s most heavily used roads, visit www.mauicounty.gov/mayor and click on “Mayor’s Update.”
Ask The Mayor
Q: I am a resident of Lahaina and have some friends wanting to come here the last week of October from the Mainland for our Halloween celebration rather than go to Kauai or the Big Island. My question is, will we have Front Street Halloween in Lahaina again this year? Warmest mahalo for your reply.
A: Yes! There will be an official Halloween event held in Lahaina this year, funded in part by the County of Maui through the Office of Economic Development, and coordinated by the LahainaTown Action Committee. Front Street will be closed from 3:30 p.m. to midnight from Baker to Prison streets for this fun and family-friendly event. Festivities will include a Keiki Costume Parade at 4:30 p.m., and a Costume Contest from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Banyan Tree Park. More activities will be available at Campbell Park, including food, keiki activities, face painting and live music by The Benny Uyetake Band. The Roberts Hawaii “Halloween Express” bus will help alleviate parking woes, with pickups at War Memorial Parking Lot and Kihei Aquatic Center. For information, call 667-9193 or visit www.visitlahaina.com.
Q: I can’t remember how long it has been since the Iao Park bathrooms have been open at the top park. Yes, there are portable toilets, but the bathrooms are preferred. Are the bathrooms fixable, and if so, are there any plans to get them running again? Mahalo.
A: The upper park in Iao Valley is actually a state park, so I checked with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which manages state park facilities. Here is the response: “The comfort station at Iao Valley State Park was closed to address the large capacity cesspool (LCC) closure regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) affecting the existing sewer system. DLNR, through a Consent Agreement with EPA, designed a septic treatment sewer system in compliance with the closure requirements. However, project construction was delayed due to concerns raised by some local residents regarding the appropriateness of a comfort station and sewer system in this area. Concerns included the perception that the facilities are a degradation of the cultural significance and spiritual character of Iao Valley and impact cultural resources in the general area. State parks staff has been working on addressing these concerns through discussions with concerned residents and the preparation of a report to address the state’s requirement to assess any impacts to archaeological and historical properties in the project area. The report is nearing completion. Until there is a resolution of these issues, the comfort station will continue to be closed and portable toilets will be provided as an interim measure.”
Q: I was at the county building last week and saw the official welcome ceremony for the sister cities delegation that was visiting from Fukuyama, Japan. Does Maui have other sister cities as well?
A: Yes! Maui County has a total of 24 sister cities. The program was established in Maui County in 1964 when an agreement was signed with Hachijo Island, Japan, as our first sister city. Maui County’s most recent sister city agreement is Goyang City, South Korea (2012). Other sister cities include Madrid, Spain; Sao Miguel, Portugal; Territory of American Samoa; Embo, Scotland; Arequipa, Peru; Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Chile; and Badoc, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. Our Maui County chapter is part of an international nonprofit, Sister Cities International, which works to advance peace and prosperity through cultural, educational, humanitarian and economic development exchanges. For more information, you can visit www.mauicounty.gov/sistercities.