Ask the Mayor
Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.
Q: A friend who lives in Wailuku Heights has been telling me that he hears coqui frogs nearby. I was surprised to hear the coqui frogs had been found in Central Maui. We have heard about it in the Haiku area, but for myself, at least, I didn’t realize it had traveled all the way to Wailuku. I guess I had been hoping they were contained to Maliko Gulch. Do you know if they are actually in Wailuku now, or is my friend just hearing things that sound like the frogs?
A: Your friend is correct. A Maui Invasive Species Committee crew has controlled several coqui in Wailuku Heights, including one just last week. Please have your friend call MISC at 573-6471 if he or she hears a coqui in the evening. Seeing a frog means it’s often a greenhouse frog, which means it is a common, widespread pest that presents less of a threat. People typically hear coqui frogs but don’t see them. When reporting coqui frogs, the more information given the better, such as precise location, time of day and, if possible, flagging or photographing the tree or plant. To learn how to hand catch or spray the frog yourself, MISC offers tips on its website (www.mauiinvasive.org) and offers citric acid (a food additive used to control the frogs) to the community free of charge. According to MISC, the coqui frog infestation in Haiku is to the point that the frogs are moving from place to place on cars more and more frequently. However, the situation in Wailuku Heights shows how important it is for a community to work together to help stop the spread of coqui frogs to new areas.
Q: What will the design of the new MECO substation off Kuihelani Highway entail?
A: Maui Electric Co. is not a county government utility, but we checked with MECO about its new, modernized substation, which is being built at the corner of Kuihelani Highway and Maui Lani Parkway in support of Central Maui’s continued growth and development. Planned for the most optimal site to deliver power to Central Maui, the Kuihelani Substation will be a permanent part of our island’s electrical grid to ensure area residents, businesses and schools continue to receive reliable power. Maui Electric says that the substation is being built in anticipation of more than 30 known developing projects, including new subdivisions, the Kahului Airport Rental Car Facility, the Maui Business Park and the Waiale Water Treatment Facility. MECO says it is pleased to be working with the Central Maui community as several of the substation’s design items are based on feedback from area residents and businesses, including its new, compact design and underground power lines across Kuihelani Highway. Of the 3 acres purchased for this project, the 1-acre substation will be approximately 35 feet from the Kuihelani Highway. The substation design is considered “low-profile” that is built compactly with equipment that will not stand as tall as a “high-profile” substation like the one located on Dairy Road. In addition to the substation’s underground electrical lines across Kuihelani Highway, in the former cane fields six poles and about 500 feet of overhead lines will connect the substation to the existing transmission line. Landscaping that addresses security needs and aesthetics is currently being determined. Approved by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission in March 2016, the new substation will also provide the capability to integrate more renewable energy resources to the grid through improved monitoring and state-of-the-art communications equipment. MECO says that should a circuit experience a fault, or an abnormal amount of electric current, this substation gives Maui Electric the ability to isolate a problem to only portions of the system and prevent more widespread outages. Construction is scheduled to be completed by end of this year. During construction, minimal traffic impacts and no extended interruptions to electrical service are currently expected.
Q: Who appoints the members of the liquor commission, how long do they serve and what are their qualifications for appointment?
A: As mayor, I am tasked with nominating individuals to serve on the commission, and the County Council confirms or rejects my nominees. Terms are for five years, with no required criteria other than being 18 years old and a County of Maui resident and U.S. citizen.
* Want to Ask the Mayor? Submit your Maui County related questions to Mayor Alan Arakawa by email at email@example.com, by phone at 270-7855 or by mail at 200 S. High St., ninth floor, Wailuku 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.