|Council Chair Maile David said she encourages|
the interaction between the landowners and
community on the future of Punalu'u.
A SECOND NIGHT OF PUBLIC INTERACTION ON PUNALU'U, WITH LANDOWNER EVA LIU AND HER PLANNERS, drew new and repeat people to the discussion, following a presentation of a preliminary plan to build new condominiums, restaurants, retail, a park and other facilities. The venue for the Friday meeting was the future roastery building behind Punalu'u Bake Shop in Na`alehu. The venue for the third meeting on Saturday, Dec. 11, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., will be Pāhala Community Center.
Hawai'i County Council Chair Maile David attended the Friday session and said she encouraged Liu to interact with the people of Kaʻū. "I told her, 'If you plan to do anything for the community, reach out to the community.'" As the council member who represents Kaʻū, David said she is in discussion with Liu on the possibility of the county purchasing the shorefront land "or portions of it" through the Public Open Space & Natural Resources Commission program that uses two percent of county property taxes to buy special places. David said that Punalu'u is already on the list for PONC properties. For the process to begin, it would need a willing seller.
The council member also noted that the meeting was full of emotion, with many points of view, and encouraged the community to continue to give input and understand that the planning process will take
Several speakers blamed the sugar plantation, which built the original Punalu'u resort, which is now partially abandoned, for bulldozing old house sites and natural areas. They also said that earlier proposals to bring back the resort, like one fronted by marine conservationist Jacque Cousteau's son, did not engage with the public as much as Liu and her Black Sand Beach, LLC and said the older plan called for many
more units of visitor accommodations and housing for the resort. Other speakers said they are worried about resort development at Punalu'u. A woman said she is confused about the plan, which calls for creating activities away from the beach in order to keep it from becoming even more crowded. She said more facilities could draw more people to Punalu'u.
|Ash Kanahele said he opposes the|
Trini Marques, who said she worked at the old Punalu'u restaurant, recalled the community going there and said she welcomes anyone who would help clean up the abandoned place. She stated that she has always wanted to preserve the road mauka of the old restaurant site for the fishermen and encouraged the current developers to respect Hawaiian knowledge about the place. "Once you touch it, you damage it, can not take it back." She also said," We are survivors" and, "We are warriors." She said she supports Liu's efforts to engage with the community.
Another speaker said he appreciates the simplicity and the economy of modest incomes that exists in the area. "What you are advocating is the antithesis of what makes Kaʻū Kaʻū."
A couple of speakers referred to investing in Kaʻū lands as money laundering. One person said that all of the places around the state were paradises until "money laundering" led to buying up the properties. "Can we save one piece of the Big Island?"
|Trini Marques recalled times when local people frequented and worked at the restaurant at Punalu'u.|
She said she welcomes anyone to come in and clean up the abandoned resort areas. Photos by Izaskun Levy
Another said she worried about the lights from restaurants, accommodations and other facilities shining on the beach and disrupting turtle nesting. A man who said he worked with the Turtle Project that protects hawksbill turtle nesting asked how many people will be drawn to the area if the project is successful? He said he would have a problem with 200 to 300 additional people per day.
A man said that lots of time was spent by the community on the Kaʻū Community Development Plan and suggested that the owners of the property adhere to it. "If you want to know the input of the people here, read the Kaʻū Community Development Plan."
A woman said there are no tall buildings in Kaʻū. "We like it that way. We are country people. Obviously, these people are not country people. There is something about this whole thing that makes me really nervous."
Another woman, who worked in many jobs at Punalu'u, said that people should learn the history of the place. She said mistakes were made by developers in the past, but that these could be corrected.
Learn about the plan in Wednesday's and Thursday's Kaʻū News Briefs at http://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2021_12_08_archive.html and http://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2021_12_09_archive.html.
KAʻŪ COFFEE MILL & VISITOR CENTER. Buy online at kaucoffeemill.com and in person at 96-2694 Wood Valley Road, daily, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.