Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.
Dear Mayor Arakawa:
Q: Why is the Kula Forest Reserve / Polipoli still closed? There has been ample time for cleanup and repair. I realize Polipoli is not a money-maker for the County, but it is one of the best places on the island and is about the only truly public hunting area on the island. Not to mention it showcases the diverse ecosystem that makes Maui so great. The length of time it’s been closed does not reflect the damage done by Tropical Cyclone Ana. Every person I’ve talked to at DLNR, etc. says they are waiting for “funding.” What funds are they waiting for? And what needs to be done to get them? Why do citizens have to go without an incredible piece of the island with zero (real) information on why it’s closed? Thanks for your time.
A: Polipoli Spring is a State park, not a County park, and it is managed by the State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW). The large recreational area sustained heavy damage last summer during Tropical Cyclone Iselle, including a large number of massive trees that fell during the same swath of high winds that swept down into Ulupalakua. The fallen trees smashed the pavilion structures in the park, blocked the hiking trail at many points and created a major safety hazard for trail users. Worse, large and precariously balanced “stacks” of trees are leaning dangerously overhead at a few points on the main access road, and several areas along the roadway have been destabilized by other fallen trees. Although DLNR crews have already cleared away all the debris they could, the remaining fallen trees- some well over 100 feet long- are simply too huge to be cleared safely without heavy equipment. Thus, DOFAW had to request special funding to hire a private contractor with the right equipment for the job. The funds have since been approved, and once they are released by the Governor and a contractor is finalized, it should be only a matter of weeks before the access road and trails can safely be reopened. Park users may be surprised at how different the forest looks after so many trees fell; DLNR staff say the number of trees per acre has decreased so dramatically that it will take decades before the forest reaches the tree density it had in the past. In case you were wondering, the small restroom in the park did not sustain damage, and the cabin survived because DOFAW personnel had already cleared out the tall trees surrounding the cabin.
Q: Recently I visited the wildlife refuge and Hawaiian cultural site in Waihee. Where I parked, people were enjoying themselves and a few were hitting golf balls into the ocean. Later, I saw dozens of golf balls washed in by the tide along the shore. I’d like to know, is hitting golf balls into the ocean legal? Mahalo.
A: Thank you for bringing this to our attention. According to the rules of the Waiehu Golf Course, which features some of the best oceanfront municipal golf anywhere, “Players shall not intentionally hit golf balls into the ocean.” (§10-103-26) I also checked with the administrator of the Waihe’e Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge, part of the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust (HILT). Hitting golf balls into the ocean from the shoreline fronting the refuge is not allowed, and is considered littering. If you see anyone hitting balls into the ocean near the refuge, please do not directly confront them; instead, call the phone number posted at various points near the “Roundtable” area (ph. 244-LAND/5263) so a caretaker can assist. The County offers a reasonably-priced driving range just around the corner, so would-be golfers should use that facility instead of littering the ocean and shoreline.
Q: Instead of patching all the potholes on Hansen Road every other month (by the sugar cane mill), could ya please find the heart and funds to have it paved, please?
A: Good news: Our Public Works director informed me that the County issued the official “Notice To Proceed” to the contractor last week. They have until later this fall to complete the reconstruction of this heavily-traveled road, with 80 percent of the cost being paid by Federal funds.
Want to Ask the Mayor?
Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email: AskTheMayor@mauicounty.gov, phone: 270-7855 or mail: 200 S. High Street, 9th Floor, Wailuku, Hawaii 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the Ask the Mayor column.