Kapano Gecko, the fictional character who lives in the soon-to-be-refurbished Lahaina Library, is a curious sort. He has been consulting with other members of the Gekkonidae ‘ohana — who live all over the West Side — about how this can become a finer place.
Over the years, he has also grown tired of people saying why something can’t be done — not how do we get this done. And he has grown weary of people being negative instead of positive.
The ‘ohana’s ideas — big and small — added together could transform a town that looks in places like an environment of the 1950s into a showplace of good thinking and good planning.
In keeping with the optimistic tone, Gecko is ignoring the fact that one of the reasons there are not more improvements is that some of our people do not know what a great park looks like, what a wonderful main street-scape is or even what good planning is (the kind one sees in picturesque Colorado towns).
Here’s the ‘ohana’s list.
1) Make the park in front of the library the showplace it should be. Get rid of the unsightly stretches where there is no grass or foliage and put in flowers and other plantings rimmed with low walls, so they can’t be walked on. Add brick paths in between. Trim trees properly and get rid of ones that are not doing well. Add benches to look out on the sea and put arms on individual seats, so they do not become beds for the homeless. (The Lahaina Restoration Foundation is actually looking into what can be done to improve the park.)
2) Encourage resorts to install tasteful little baskets with tasteful little signs along all Kaanapali beaches reminding visitors that hundreds of cigarette butts rubbed out in the sand — besides looking disgusting — wind up in the ocean, where they harm fish.
3) Encourage the Weinberg Foundation to revamp Lahaina Center. Convert many of the empty shops into affordable housing, creating a blend of housing and retail. This move would revitalize the shopping center, keep it alive during all parts of the day and add badly needed affordable housing without taking years to create.
4) Require shopping areas fronting Honoapiilani Highway to eliminate all ugly, illegal tent signs on the roadway pointing the way to their places of business. Encourage these centers to install one aesthetically pleasing, well-lit sign on a concrete base with replaceable placards using one typeface to list each merchant.
5) Encourage resorts — which sometimes place glitzy, six-foot-tall lighted signs atop their hotels to “honor” conventions — to end a practice that geckos say is offensive, because it makes them think they are in Las Vegas and not Paradise.
6) And come to think of it, stop doing promotional campaigns that offer trips glorifying Las Vegas, and instead promote “stay-cations” in places like Honolulu and Hawaii Island that are so different from Maui, they indeed
provide a break from “island fever.”
7) Establish a first Saturday or Sunday evening on Front Street, closing the street and adding entertainment and food.
8) Place more emphasis on making Front Street a first-class shopping area that is not filled with tacky shops. (Paia, by the way, has become quite a
destination because of the quality of its shops and eateries — places that please eyes rather than offend them.)
9) Take time out to attend the monthly luncheon concerts on the lawn at the Bailey Home sponsored by Lahaina Restoration Foundation, to hear music legends talk about the old days and play memorable tunes.
10) Add mongoose to Lahaina Civic Center to go after the rodents that like to attend meetings. (Strike that — been there, done that elsewhere with poor success.)
11) Read this and the island’s three other newspapers more often, so as to not miss out on special events. (The Gecko, who lives in the Fairway Shops, is amazed at how so few people appear to be well-informed about what is going on here.)
Kapano Gecko believes these initiatives would be a good start. And the money to pay for them? Elect people who will trim the costs of bureaucratic decision-making and use the savings for positive gain... while not forgetting that the better half of the island is on this side.
Columnists Notebook: Voices of Maui has expanded to Maui Weekly. Too many remarkable people to write about in one paper. Different columns will appear in each paper and be accessible on the world wide web. The book “Voices of Maui” is now being carried at the new Royal Trading Company wine shop at the Royal Lahaina Resort.