Q: I was saddened to hear about the 20-year-old German tourist who died of her injuries from the shark bite. Why is it we have lifeguard towers stationed at some beaches and not others? I know in the past lifeguards will close beaches down if they spot a shark or if someone reports seeing a shark. A lifeguard at that beach might have saved that girl's life.
A: County of Maui provides lifeguards on those beaches where we have county parks located adjacent to it, however the primary responsibility for much of our coastline belongs to the State of Hawaii or private landowners. The county has Ocean Safety towers at eight of our high-use county beach parks. Smaller county beach parks, like Launiupoko Beach Park, do not have towers (although we are looking into placing lifeguards at Launiupoko as it is a busy beach as well). Right now, the beaches with towers are Kamaole I, II and III, Hanakao'o Beach (aka Canoe Beach), DT Fleming Beach Park, Kanaha Beach Park, HA Baldwin Beach Park and Ho'okipa Beach Park. During summer months when our PALS program brings children to swim at Hana Bay on Fridays, we have lifeguards there as well. We also have county lifeguards at Big Beach, which is state property, but that is only because we have a contract with the state for services there. And yes, Ocean Safety has a protocol that it follows for shark sightings and attacks. Should an individual see a shark close to the shoreline or where water activities are taking place, they should call 911 immediately and dispatch will notify the appropriate first responders, whether they are county lifeguards, police, fire and/or EMS personnel. At that time, lifeguards will use their personal watercraft and ATVs to patrol the water and the beach to see if they can verify the sighting. If there is a verification of a shark in the area, the beach will be closed for a mile in either direction and then be monitored. If there is no verified activity after two hours, the beach will reopen to the public. Should the shark actually bite someone, the beach will be closed until the end of the day and, in the morning, lifeguards and state Department of Land and Natural Resource officials will observe the area, usually reopening the beach at noon if there is no further activity.
Q: When is the county going to do something about Kokomo Road? It is incredibly dangerous and long overdue for resurfacing.
A: You are absolutely right, Kokomo Road is in bad shape. It's a combination of the wet weather and clay in the soil underneath which causes the road to deteriorate faster than other roads in the county. The good news is that Kokomo Road has been listed as a road that qualifies for federal aid funds. This means that the federal government will pay for 80 percent of the costs, so the county can go ahead and not just resurface the road but rebuild it. A good example of a rebuilt road is Haliimaile Road. We hope to begin work on Kokomo Road within the next two years. It may seem like a long time now, but it will be worth it in the end because a reconstructed road lasts for about 30 years, compared to 10 years for a resurfaced road.
Q: Is there a simple way to find out about break-ins on my street or in my neighborhood?
A: Yes. Go to www.raidsonline.com and you will find a search engine that allows you to punch in your address to find your neighborhood. On the left-hand side you can choose what kind of offenses you want to search for, whether it's robberies, DUIs, assaults or, in your case, residential burglaries. Make sure you indicate the "date range" (for example, June 1 to Aug. 1) or the engine will only search for offenses committed during the present month.
Want to Ask the Mayor? Submit your Maui County-related questions to Mayor Alan Arakawa by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 270-7855 or by mail at 200 S. High St., 9th 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 email@example.com.