Moving Forward With Projects

Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. addresses a meeting to consider a location for a new adolescent drug-treatment facility in Lihu'e.
Amanda C. Gregg photo

The island is making a lot of headway recently with projects that had appeared doomed.

I covered a contentious meeting on the West side a few years back during which the late former mayor Bryan Baptiste pleaded with attendees to consider the children before turning away from the idea of an adolescent drug-treatment center in their town. Baptiste noted that the land is the land of the people, and the children are all of ours. That and subsequent meetings resulted in what seemed an indefinite postponement of such a center. Following Baptiste’s passing, Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. continued the hunt for a new site, a search that would inevitably result in more of the “Not in My Backyard” syndrome.

But Carvalho, who recently marked two Lihu’e sites for the project, seems to earnestly want to assuage the concerns of residents near the proposed sites, and he’s passionate about tackling the serious drug problem facing Kaua’i youths. Grove Farm Company is in negotiations with the county about land for the sites, over which one resident at the recent site meeting voiced concern, noting, “nothing is for free.” It was a comment that County Councilman Mel Rapozo, in his usual sound-bite-friendly banter, countered with, “Well, I should hope it’s not free,” then added a tongue-in-cheek remark to Carvalho, who was seated in the audience, “but, Mayor, it should be reasonable.”

Those in the standing-room-only meeting seemed to reach consensus that there needs to be an adolescent treatment center, although the meeting was tempered with opposition from the same NIMBY challenge that Baptiste and prevention experts faced in 2007. Kimberly Cummings, a self-proclaimed former addict and director of Women in Need (who lives in the neighborhood of the proposed sites) said she took to the streets to show her support for the center: “I told them, ‘This is too important.'”

George Costa
Amanda C. Gregg photo

Hopefully future meetings will further address the fears, concerns and rights of residents while still ensuring we help our youths. As a former grant writer for underage drinking prevention, I remember all too clearly that our youths have some of the most daunting statistics in the state, including being the youngest in state counties to try alcohol (11 years old). The two proposed sites are centrally located near Kaua’i Gardens and Isenberg subdivisions, and are close to the hospital, courthouse and police station. The next meeting regarding this issue is scheduled from 6 to 7:30 p.m. March 3 at Lihu’e Neighborhood Center …

Kudos to George Costa of Kaua’i County Office of Economic Development and Susan Tai-Kaneko of Kaua’i Economic Development Board,who recently unveiled the Kaua’i Economic Development Plan Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy that takes the county through to 2015. The plan cites several accomplishments since 2004 despite a “gloomy” economic picture, including the creation of a “Kaua’i Made” brand, the opening of the Regency at Puakea, the first assisted-living facility on Kaua’i, the completion of phases 1 and 2 of the bike path and the drafted completion of the Kaua’i Energy Sustainability Plan. In addition, the office’s film commissioner Art Umezu brought Kaua’i to the world stage by lobbying filmmakers to shoot movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides with Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz here, as well as Descendants with George Clooney, and Just Go with It (formerly Pretend Wife) with Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler, shot in Kilauea and at Secret Beach – and, of course, Soul Surfer, the movie inspired by Bethany Hamilton‘s encouraging story …

Though it’s a touchy and controversial subject, I’ve got to counter the backlash of negativity sent to state Rep. James Kunane “Jimmy” Tokioka (DWailua-Lihu’e-Koloa) and state Sen. Ron Kouchi (D-Kaua’i-Ni’ihau) regarding Senate Bill 1207, which would hold authors and publishers who aim their publications at visitors potentially accountable for content. Though I do remember one of my media law professors in graduate school talking about the slippery slope of censorship when it comes to the First Amendment. I also remember reporting way too many times on the drownings of visitors who had read a guidebook that suggested they visit places like Kipu Falls and Queen’s Bath, resulting in their death. Though I’ve heard the argument that publishers should be responsible and this isn’t the way to get them to be so, the truth is certain publications haven’t been responsible because they haven’t had to be. Having co-authored the Lonely Planet Guidebook for Kaua’i, I can say we took great care when it came to warning visitors, even omitting oft-frequented and trespassed-upon locations because they are dangerous and deadly. We worked with Kaua’i Police Department and Kaua’i Visitors Bureau before deciding what and what not to include, as well as what to recommend to visitors. You can go off the beaten path without enticing visitors into harm’s way. That’s why I laud Tokioka and Kouchi for this bill. It seems to be less about stifling the First Amendment and more about protecting people from dying in paradise …

‘In The Between’ opens March 3 at galerie 103.
Photo courtesy Margaret Ezekiel

I saved the most pleasant item for last. Those craving a taste of the art scene should mark their calendars to see the talented and poetic Margaret Ezekiel at galerie 103 in Po’ipu’s Kukui’ula Village, who will present “In The Between,” a solo exhibition featuring her figurative exploration into consciousness, connections and change and a “Procession” series of seven individual panels from her personal collection, not shown in its entirety since the 2004-2005 exhibit at The Contemporary Museum in Honolulu. The exhibit opens with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. March 3 and is on view through April 30. Ezekiel, who lets go of her impulse to “think, to name, to limit, to edit, to censor,” is perhaps best known for her profound sense of defining art, referencing a “perfection in that imperfect attempt to put on paper what can never be put on paper.

I suspect that’s what makes art so poignantly human, recognizing both the futility and the truth.” A concurrent installation by Rosa Silver opens in the gallery annex that same night. To learn more, go to galerie103.com …

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