Do you know how long the Kihei Community Association has existed?
Of course, age is relative, so we are brand new compared to this island's age measured in eons, or even when compared to the kanaka arrival on our shores measured in centuries. But measured against more contemporary entities in decades or years, quite a while.
Just a shade less than statehood for Hawaii. More than 50 years ago, way before the County Council existed or anyone was elected county mayor, community volunteers were working to make South Maui a better place to live and work, which continues today after more than 50 years, via this association.
This venerable all-volunteer nonprofit institution continues to be modified by the elected leaders based on community input. In spite of what is often reported, the present directors are mostly local small-business persons in a wide variety of fields, supplemented by a few, very experienced business retirees. The board is a mix of youth and senior, women and men, who are always looking for more and better supporters.
We encourage membership, but no one is ever excluded from our meetings. KCA consistently encourages input from community members, whether in person at meetings or via our interactive website, www.gokihei.org.
Our mission statement, shown on this same website, uses terms like " . . . encourage, promote and aid . . . unified community spirit . . . promote health, safety and welfare . . . understanding and fellowship."
That is what KCA is about. We are concerned with reasonable and practical development, safe streets not just for motor vehicles, but for bicyclists and pedestrians as well. We are concerned about the built and the natural environment. We need to ensure that our natural environment and view plains are preserved, and that there is sufficient safe potable water for all of South Maui, and that our nearshore ocean waters are healthy.
As our community's population continues to expand faster than other segments of the county, we want assurance that the necessary infrastructure not only keeps pace, but makes up for numerous past lapses to foster that "health, safety and welfare" of South Maui.
KCA actions induced by this mission statement include donations of items beneficial to our community, such as a WaveRunner for the county ocean safety officers, an all-terrain vehicle for our police officers, and a series of "Coral Reef Etiquette" signs installed at several nearshore locations to guide residents and visitors to help preserve our natural treasury below the surface. In addition, KCA continuously offers public testimony at the various councils, committees and commissions of both the state and county governments.
We conduct monthly public general membership meetings (third Tuesday of each month) on a variety of topics of community concern and offer a wide spectrum of guest presenters. Each meeting always seeks input from the community.
We work to form partnerships with various entities across the islands, whether with other community associations, directly or thorough the Alliance of Community Associations, or service groups like Rotary clubs, for mutual benefits.
KCA has had a long-standing cooperative effort with local schools, South Maui's division of our Police Department, with most of the varied departments of the Mayor's Office, as well as with the County Council.
But we are not part of the government. At times there is a misconception that since we only have two tiers of government in Hawaii, state and county, that a community association is a town or community government and that we "work" for the county, and that directors are paid for this service. This is completely false. No one is compensated financially, and in fact most directors often make purchases out of pocket for the association.
A few years ago, I was most fortunate to meet a man who offered me a historical perspective on KCA, as his father was one of the creators of this association. I asked him if he knew why his father did it. He replied, "Sure. Two big concerns: water and roads."
After more than five decades, some concerns remain the same for KCA.
* Mike Moran is president of the Kihei Community Association.