Ask The Mayor

Q: Traffic to the north shore was horrendous last week because of the big surf and all the crowds that were flocking to Paia and Jaws. When is there going to be a real Paia bypass built? That minibypass offers some relief but for the most part north shore traffic is still bad on a daily basis, and when we have these big swells it gets out of control.

A: The state Department of Transportation is working on such a project right now, but it is in the very early stages. I understand they are looking at different alignments and corridors to find a way around Paia town, however much more needs to be done. The project itself would be very costly, currently estimated at $90 million, and would definitely require community input. When the time comes, the county will make sure we work with the state to help get the word out about any community meetings about the project.

Q: This little fire ant invasion is very serious and could cause irreparable harm to our community. We need to find out who bought these hapuu logs, destroy the logs and destroy any colonies on property. Otherwise, this ant will get a foothold on our island and make drastic changes to our environment.

A: Since the ant was discovered last month we have been working hand in hand with the state Department of Agriculture. During its eradication efforts, they treated and destroyed five pallets of hapuu logs while they were still in stores. Another 27 logs were treated and destroyed from people either turning in their logs or calling the state and having inspectors come out to their property to take their logs.

Only two out of 27 logs were confirmed to be infested by the ant. I also have personally asked our state legislators for two additional inspectors for Maui and Molokai to help keep these pests from reaching our islands. The ant is a serious threat and if established on Maui has the potential to attack our agricultural workers, blind our pets and cripple our Hawaiian seabirds. I encourage anyone who suspects they may have an infestation to contact the Maui branch of the state Department of Agriculture at 872-3848.

Q: What is the difference between Ocean Safety and the Fire Department’s ocean rescue operation? Isn’t it kind of redundant to have both, or is there a difference?

A: Both our Ocean Safety lifeguards and Maui Fire and Public Safety Search and Rescue teams play vital roles in keeping our visitors and residents safe. Ocean Safety consists of the men and women on the front lines of our county beach parks. They warn us of sharks, rescue swimmers, keep an eye out for high surf and perform dozens of other vital functions. Our Search and Rescue teams are meant for longer-range operations, because they have boats and access to helicopters. Search and Rescue crews also are on duty 24/7 while our lifeguards are on duty from sunrise to sunset. But you are right, there is some overlap in services, which is another reason why voters approved a charter amendment to merge Ocean Safety and Fire and Public Safety operations. The specifics of the merger are taking place at this time.

Ask The Mayor

Q: Does the county have any plans to install a traffic light at the intersection of Maui Lani Parkway and Kamehameha Avenue? Both roads are heavily traveled and the intersection is often congested due to the current four-way stop.

A: Yes, a traffic signal is in the works. I asked our Public Works director, David Goode, about this and he said that Maui Lani has initiated design of a traffic signal system for this intersection in accordance with the traffic master plan agreement with the county. The intersection is still privately owned, but Maui Lani just dedicated the portion of Maui Lani Parkway from that intersection to Kuikahi Drive to the county. Maui Lani is also in the process of dedicating the remaining portion of Maui Lani Parkway and Kamehameha to the county, so the intersection will be under full county control.

Q: I live in Kuau and hear all kinds of noise at night from the work they’re doing on our waterline. Wouldn’t this have been a better project to do while people were at work during the day?

A: This is a question that our county departments consider all the time. “Should we conduct the project in the day and cause traffic delays, or work at night and risk noise complaints?” If there was a third option that involved neither consequence, believe me, we would choose that option. But whether we are putting in a new waterline, new wastewater pipes or other projects, most of the time they cause either one or the other. In this case, Hana Highway is a well-traveled road during the day and there are no paved roads to use to detour traffic around the work area – besides going past Old Maui High School on an unpaved road – so work must be done at night. Earlier this month there was a waterline break in Paia that left residents, stores and restaurants without water for several hours. If we are to avoid more of these types of service interruptions, we must continue to upgrade our aging water infrastructure. Mahalo for your patience as we complete this much-needed project.

Q: Maui is my home, specifically Lahaina, and I run four to five times a week on Front Street in the early mornings. I enjoy the quietness of Front Street in the morning as well as the cleanliness of the sidewalks and street before the merchants open up. I noticed that there are no recycling bins on the street next to the trash barrels. I would like to know if recycling receptacles could be placed next to these barrels. Lahaina is a global destination as well as having been declared a National Historic Landmark. How we deal with our waste can reflect how we deal with our lives. I believe that the importance of protecting our environment is crucial for the survival and existence of our beautiful island and earth and for the future of our children. Please let me know how I can assist in any way in obtaining recycling bins, as I will be the first to get these on Front Street, if I have to sponsor one or get a group of people involved to start a campaign.

A: The trash receptacles on Front Street are managed by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation, which receives a grant from the county to coordinate trash collection from the public receptacles. However, the current funding levels do not allow for a separate recycling program. One way to request recycling on Front Street would be to attend the hearing on the West Maui budget that will be held by the County Council this spring. I will also share your inquiry with the grantee and with our Department of Environmental Management so we can review how much a recycling program might cost and how it could be managed.

Ask The Mayor

Q: I bought some hapuu logs for my orchids a couple months ago, but I heard that some of the logs might have been infested with ants. How should I check for the ants, and what do I do if I find any?

A: If you bought the hapuu within the past 12 months, the state Department of Agriculture is recommending that you check for the little fire ant by putting peanut butter on a chopstick and inserting the chopstick into the ground, with the peanut butter end on the fern. If you see ants on the chopstick, put the chopstick and any ants into a sealable plastic bag and place the bag in the freezer. Call the Agriculture Department at 872-3843, and an inspector will be sent to determine whether the ants are little fire ants, which are extremely small (less than 1/16th of an inch long) but pack a very painful bite.

Q: We have heard rumors that Monsanto donated the land on which the new police station in Kihei is built. Is this true? By the way, we toured that beautiful building and were very impressed.

A: No, Monsanto did not donate land for the police station in Kihei. According to our capital improvements project coordinator, the county purchased the 150-acre parcel for a park in 1994 from Haleakala Ranch at a cost of $2.1 million. Monsanto dedicated land for an easement and a pipeline to carry R-1 water from the county system across Monsanto property to the Kihei Police Station.

Q: As a longtime resident and frequent user of many of the pools on Maui, I would like to know why all the pools do not seem to have a minimum standardized water temperature. For years, the Kihei Aquatic Center’s 50-meter pool had a comfortable winter temperature of 80 degrees. Now that there is a new head pool lifeguard, the temperature is being kept at 76 to 78 degrees, which has encouraged many of the residents to quit their winter swimming. This seems unfair that the pool temperatures are left up to the head lifeguard. Why are pool temperatures not standardized by the County on Maui?

A: According to our parks and recreation aquatics staff, the temperatures at all county pools are kept between 79 and 80 degrees. During the midday hours it may rise even higher. However, there will be days when equipment malfunctions and the heater may be down for several days until parts can be obtained. The boilers are regulated by temperature controls, so as soon as the pool hits 80 the system shuts off. Our senior lifeguards are told that only the pump mechanic is authorized to access the boiler controls to make temperature adjustments. Our aquatics staff will check into your comment about the Kihei pool’s temperature.

Ask The Mayor

Q: Why doesn’t Maui have synchronized traffic lights? I have traveled off-island to the Mainland many times and have noticed synchronized traffic lights on main roads. Kaahumanu Avenue is a perfect example. We all know it’s virtually impossible to drive from Maui Mall into Wailuku with all green lights. There might be a reason as to why traffic lights are not synchronized. I feel that if traffic was pushed down the main road smoothly, the side streets can catch up. Also, lights can be synchronized so that drivers speeding ahead will hit a red light. I also think there are a few traffic lights Upcountry that are dangerous because sudden red lights cause drivers to slam on their brakes while traveling down very steep hills. Let’s face it: There are large vehicles and cars with bad brakes that may not be able to stop in time, thereby causing an accident.

A: The roads with lights that are synchronized are state highways. Our only county road that may qualify in this regard is South Kihei Road. We have a design project almost finished to address the synchronization of the three traffic signals near Azeka’s. Kaahumanu Avenue is a state-controlled road, and its traffic signals are synchronized. From my own experience, they work pretty well if traffic is not too heavy. However, with either Kamehameha or Wakea avenues partially closed for construction, more cars are shifted onto Kaahumanu. In the mornings, Kaahumanu is synchronized traveling toward Wailuku, and in the opposite direction in the afternoon. To my knowledge, the only intersection that is not part of this is Kahului Beach Road, which empties a lot of traffic onto Kaahumanu. Streets can only be synchronized in one direction.

Q: Isn’t there something that can be done about the littering of phone books in our communities? It’s bad enough when they’re left in piles around mailboxes, but I live in a rural area and someone just threw the books out in the rain at the end of three different roads. Good luck trying to get ahold of I guess they don’t care that the people they hire aren’t doing their job. Meanwhile, someone else cleans up the mess.

A: You may “opt out” of phone book delivery by registering at Paradise Pages, (800)489-8230, sponsors free phone book recycling on Maui for all phone books in conjunction with Royal Hawaiian Movers. A phone book recycling bin is located outside the company’s entrance at 400 Hana Highway in Kahului. Hawaiian Telcom also sponsors a free phone book recycling event just for Hawaiian Telcom books after the new edition is delivered in April/May. This four-week event is usually conducted through a contract with Aloha Recycling (871-8544). Aloha Recycling, located at 75 Amala St. in Kahului, accepts all phone books year-round. In general, our county Recycling Section tells me that phone books are difficult to recycle because the paper is low-grade and most of the weight comes from the ink. As such, we are fortunate to be able to recycle them here.

Q: What’s going on with no streetlights along Makawao Avenue after Third Friday parties? I usually walk home afterward because I live close by and had to use the light from my cellphone to see because it was so dark. Are all the lights out for some reason and if so, what is being done to replace them?

A: Since Maui Electric Co. is in charge of maintaining streetlights, please contact MECO at 871-777 to notify them when you notice an outage. Thank you for helping keep our streets safe at night for pedestrians, motorists and others who use the roadways at night.