Harbor plan would sever Front Street
I had expected some serious pushback with letters to the editor about the proposed new Mala Wharf harbor. The article buried the most important aspect of the proposal from residents' viewpoint, so I'll point it out here. The plan would chop Front Street in two. Think of it - a street already considered historic, also happens to be a major artery from the north side to the south side of Lahaina Town, severed right in the middle of it.
The impact of splitting Front Street would be enormous for many reasons.
The first impact would affect all of West Maui, including not only residents, but tourists, workers and first responders. Front Street provides the only alternative for motorists when the highway is closed or limited because of a crash, repair work or other emergency between Fleming Road and Puamana. Think of the impact in the event of an earthquake, tsunami or other natural disaster. Yes, the bypass might offer an alternative in another 20 years, given its past pace, but not now.
Another impact is just inconvenience for the thousands of Lahaina Town residents on the north and south sides, who need a second road to go about their daily business taking them from one side of town to the other.
A third is the negative impact of adding what is essentially a huge commercial facility in the middle of a heavily residential area. Added residences can be handled and should be welcomed, but other plans already call for affordable housing on the vacant land between Kenui and the Kahoma Stream, the highway and Front Street.
I'm sure there are many other reasons, but the first is enough to stop a project that would have absolutely no benefit for Lahaina Town other than the commercial interests involved. It certainly would be nothing but a disaster for residents.
The plan promises unbroken access via a "periphery road" from one part of the split Front Street to the other, passing off the inconvenience as taking only two minutes.
The loop proposed would have motorists veer off Front at Kenui, go north a few yards before making a hairpin right turn, following a curving road alongside Kenui past boat docks and residences on up to the highway, continuing adjacent to the highway to the Kahoma Stream ditch, turning left and going all the way back makai to join the other part of the split Front Street. Looks like a ten-minute loop most of the time to me.
The buried part of the article mentioned that as part of the proposal as a possible "deal breaker." Let's make our voices heard to make it a deal breaker now - not when it's too late.
Mala Wharf is deteriorated, and the location a bad spot for keeping boats, but someone should have decided that instead of locating an exposed anchoring spot simply to take advantage of an existing pier built long ago to transport sugar cane out beyond the reef to waiting ships. I used to sail, and all sailors I know are wise enough to anchor in suitable, natural sheltered spots. Find one and move.
HOWARD FIELDS, Lahaina
Preserve Lipoa Point
The preservation of Honolua holds genuine importance to me; it's where my roots stem from. I was "born and raised" in West Maui, and my connections with Ahupua'a Lipoa run deep. I am only 22, and yet I've witnessed drastic changes due to developments. I've watched my native land used and abused. I'm told these changes will boost our economy, yet I see more homelessness and poverty than before. I'm more aware of the destruction these commercial developments have on the environment and community.
Five years ago, I spoke at the Maui County Council in support of preserving Lipoa Point. The emotions I felt then are stronger now. My opinions have broadened due to my growing appreciation toward my 'aina and my Native Hawaiian ancestry.
It is sad that someone with no ancestral or cultural ties to Ahupua'a Lipoa has power and authority over its future. Instead of appreciating and perpetuating the natural beauty that is Hawaii, our own County Council is acting to extinguish it. My fear is that our children won't be able to witness this beauty and will lose all sense of cultural importance due to economic issues.
I won't sit back and watch any longer. I'm registered to vote, and I'll continue to stand up for what I believe is right, because it is my kuleana as a Native Hawaiian. "Ua mau ke ea o ka aina I ka pono." Our state motto; if we don't believe it, respect it or defend it, no one will.
Development will damage Honolua
Recently, the Maui County Council voted Lipoa Point at Honolua Bay out of preservation. The Save Honolua Coalition (SHC), a nonprofit organization, has been working tirelessly for years, fighting for preservation and protection of this beautiful, sacred land. Thousands of signatures to petitions by the community and years of hard work have been canceled out by five council members who obviously have an agenda besides the voice of the people.
Future development will undoubtedly cause irreparable damage. Honolua Stream has been diverted, hindering native plant and animal species to thrive. Honolua Bay is a marine conservation district that has already been negatively affected by development of the south side of The Bay.
The Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources claims that the coral coverage of Honolua Bay decreased from 42 to 9 percent over a ten-year span, and a recent study has also shown that Honolua Bay is rated for the highest level of bacteria in Hawaii. More development means more pollutants in the water.
The more SHC and the community have to fight politicians and ML&P, the less time and energy can be VOLUNTEERED to help solve some of the existing problems. Join the fight at www.savehonolua.org.
FREDDY VON ESSEN, Makawao
Real reasons for Pali to Puamana Parkway sought
I want to respond to a letter from Gordon Cockett concerning the proposed Pali to Puamana Parkway. I could not be more appalled or resistant to the idea of developing the oceanfront area that would result from moving the current highway inland, but it was my understanding that recreational area would be created instead.
I was under the impression that the concept was to convert the existing road into an eight-mile bikeway and park that would be unique on Maui and provide a desperately needed recreational shoreline resource.
The fact that the highway is scenic is indisputable, but moving it inland would do nothing to diminish this as long as the coastline was undeveloped.
If you have ever biked or walked along the cane road, you would know that the view is actually better since the elevation is a little higher.
There is the additional irrefutable evidence that shoreline erosion is occurring; and, unless we want to throw millions of dollars into the futile effort to keep the road in its current location and continue to attempt to minimize the damage, we need to move the road.
The core question to me is: Is this a progressive excellent idea to create both a permanent solution to the endless erosion and an exceedingly welcome recreational area? Or is it a pretense to develop the coastline? If anyone knows what's truly going on with this issue, I would welcome some clarity.
Jill Ireland, Lahaina
"Lofty Goals" of Mala Wharf development questioned
First let me say, I appreciate "Lofty Goals" that really serve to benefit the community; however, I will now go on record as being completely opposed to the projected development of the mega-harbor at Mala Wharf. Let me give you a few reasons why.
1) One-hundred-and-sixty retail establishments. It never ceases to amaze me how big business speculators fail to do their homework. Directly next door to the proposed site stands Lahaina Cannery Mall, which has never had 100 percent occupancy in their retail units and are to this day operating in the red.
Across the highway stands Lahaina Gateway Center, little more than a ghost town of empty storefronts with the project now in bankruptcy. Mauka is the Lahaina industrial area, also with many storefronts and warehouses vacant. The shops behind Hard Rock Cafe are empty; Front Street shops are floundering; and 505 Front Street is the same.
If we can't fill what we have, does it make sense to build more?
2) Sixteen residential condominiums. Affordable? I seriously doubt it. How many condos are for sale on West Maui right now at no doubt more affordable prices? Are they selling? Have you talked to any Real Estate people lately?
3) What about environmental and logistical impact. The Mala area is known for its extremely strong ocean currents. That is why the first pier was never operable for loading and unloading cargo as was proposed. In one day, I watched as Hurricane Iniki all but totally demolish that pier; I can only imagine what it would have done to the jetties the developers have in mind.
There is a world class surf break just adjacent to this proposed harbor that would suffer greatly from boat pollution, constant boat wake traffic and the refraction of waves bouncing off the new jetties.
Remember this will be three times the size of Lahaina's small boat harbor. Have you checked the pollution level of that water lately?
What about its impact on the ancient graveyard or the "Jesus Coming Soon" Apostolic Church? That is a landmark known around the world from story and song. Are these old landmarks simply to be removed and forgotten to make way for progress?
4) Finally, what about the boaters themselves? The ones who have lived aboard their vessels for years on the roadstead off Mala? One-hundred-and-forty-three slips supposedly going for $25-a-foot per month. Take your average 25-foot boat, and we're talking $7,500 a year base fees, and I'm sure that's not counting those all too familiar hidden costs. Friends, that puts every current boat owner/dweller on dry land, because they simply could not afford the fees.
Lahaina depends on tourism and our draw to the world is the beauty and charm of our small village and quiet harbor nestled in the historic whaling, sugarcane and missionary town that we all know and love so well. Sadly, we are rapidly killing the golden goose.
In the early 1960s, I watched as the big investors came to Dana Point in California. They destroyed a quaint community and its pristine bay and world famous surf break for their "Lofty Goals." The middle class was driven out, being replaced by the rich and famous yachting set. Is that really what we want for Lahaina; and who, if anyone will really benefit?