Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most-recently asked questions submitted to his office staff.
Dear Mayor Arakawa:
Q: Are there any plans to maintain, repair, and/or make improvements to the Keopuolani skate park? My son recently started skateboarding and I have been taking him to the various skate parks on Maui. All the skate parks seem to be well used by the community, which is great. The Keopuolani skate park is in bad shape compared to the other skate parks on the island, yet it is the closest to our house so we usually go there. One suggestion is to rebuild the large wood half-pipe into a smaller version as very few of the skateboarders ride the current half-pipe due to its imposing size.
A: I’m glad to report that our Parks department has already been planning to restore the Keopuolani skate park, and is evaluating the possibility of reducing the size of the existing half-pipe so more riders can utilize it. Using funds on-hand, Parks staff have made plans to redo damaged fencing, paint the skate park, and add benches and trash receptacles. As soon as all the supplies are ready, work on the skate facility will be scheduled with closures affecting one side at a time. It’s estimated that work can begin in about two months.
Q: My question concerns the roadside mowing being done by the County. As a long-time resident of Maui that has lived all over the island, I am appalled how the mowing is done without first picking up the trash. I have never seen any of the mower operators pick up trash, therefore, when the mowers run over the trash they turn one piece of litter into dozens. I run along the roads of Maui and see this all the time. As someone that spends his free time picking up other people’s trash it really ticks me off to see this being done. Glass, plastic, styrofoam, you name it: it gets shredded by the mowers. Why is this allowed to happen? It is an ugly blight on our beautiful slice of paradise and one that seems easy enough to resolve. Couldn’t the County hire some people to do roadside cleanups the day before mowing? Or perhaps the County could coordinate the mowing with the roadside trash pickup volunteers. There must be a simple solution to this problem. Thanks for your time.
A: The simplest solution is for people to not throw trash along the roadsides. However, in reality it’s not quite that simple. County Public Works-Highways Division crews are responsible for mowing the shoulders of County roads adjacent to Ag-zoned property of greater than 15 acres. And while crews are instructed to check for excessive debris before mowing, oftentimes the weeds are so dense that workers can’t see the trash under the weeds. Most of the Adopt-A-Highway litter collection efforts are focused on State Highways, and hiring people to pick up trash along roadways is an expensive undertaking. At one time the County had a general policy that if Community Work Day (CWD, now doing business as “Mālama Maui Nui”) had a volunteer group doing a roadside litter pick-up, our crews wouldn’t mow until after the scheduled cleanup, unless the growth was so bad that it posed a safety hazard. This type of coordination certainly helps reduce the amount of litter that gets mixed in with the mowing operations, but is dependent on volunteers. Folks willing to “adopt” their own stretch of road they see being littered can contact Mālama Maui Nui (MMN) at ph. 877-2524 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. MMN provides safety vests, buckets, bags, gloves, trash pickers and trash pickup service for those volunteer coordinators who arrange their own cleanups. You can also visit the organization’s website for information on the upcoming “Great American Cleanup,” which will focus on roadside cleanups from March 1-June 30, 2015: www.cwdhawaii.org. Continuing to educate the public to NOT dump rubbish is vital, and we join our community partner agencies in reminding residents and visitors alike that it is our responsibility to take care of our island home.
Q: Why do some streets have a lot of street lights while others have none?
A: Older subdivisions, say from the ‘60s and earlier, had very few—if any—requirements for street lights. Oftentimes, lights would be added to existing power poles based on request. As our subdivision code was modernized, we started to require street lights—a lot of them—and it wasn’t uncommon for them to be installed every 300 feet or so, depending on how much traffic was expected. In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, the streetlight rules were amended to require streetlights only at the intersections of new developments, and that all existing streetlights were to be shielded against uplighting. Concerns about losing the night sky, along with the negative effects on turtle hatchlings and juvenile seabirds that get disoriented by artificial lights have played a prominent role in shaping more recent streetlight rules.
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.