Commission holds off on recommendations for Laaloa Beach Park

  • A portion of the old ahupua‘a boundary wall is seen at Laaloa Bay Beach Park. (LAURA RUMINSKI/West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — The county’s Cultural Resources Commission tabled recommendations for Laaloa Beach Park to give commissioners more time to consider an August subcommittee report.

One commissioner, Benjamine Heloca, said Wednesday he would visit the site himself and provide his own input in time for the commission to take up the matter again at its December meeting.

ADVERTISING


It marked another delay in the oft-delayed project.

The recommendations — eight of them in total — are meant to ensure the eight historic properties identified in the Laaloa Park preservation area, among them Haukalua Heiau, are being preserved in accordance with preservation plans from 1997 and 2006. The recommendations are included in a report on a site visit by the commission’s investigative subcommittee, which included three subcommittee members (including the chair and vice chair of the commission) as well as the Hawaii Island archaeologist from the State Historic Preservation Division and the Hawaii County Parks project manager.

While portions of the plans had been implemented, the report said, others had not.

In its report, the subcommittee topped its recommendations with a plea to the county to get the plan in place.

“We strongly urge the county to prioritize completion and implementation of this plan, which has been ‘in progress’ for a decade,” wrote the subcommittee.

The Cultural Resources Commission was scheduled to take up the report as well as a presentation related to the preservation plan by Department of Parks and Recreation staff at its September meeting, but that meeting and the October meeting were canceled because of a lack of quorum.

During Wednesday’s meeting, the commission voted to wait another month before officially making any recommendations on the plan.

Citing public testimony presented at the meeting that challenged some of the conclusions in the subcommittee report, commissioner, Heloca said he wanted to visit the site himself “to check off ‘yes it is done,’ ‘it says done but it’s not,’ or ‘partial.’”

“And that’s where I am right now as far as the plan goes,” he said, “because you can’t go any further without really pinpointing what has been and hasn’t been done.”

He later moved to table the recommendations for now.

“Not saying that the recommendations are at fault or anything like that,” Heloca said, “but coming here with fresh eyes and with my own experience, I’d like to be able to have the opportunity to look at it and go to the area and then have it re-worded.”

Heloca had also earlier raised concern about the list plants suggested for possible planting at Laaloa Beach Park.

“The majority of the plants are not sea-side dwellers,” he said. “They belong in botanical gardens and not by the ocean.”

ADVERTISING


From the lack of moisture, as well as the salt and insects present, he said many of the plants would “be dead in about a month or less.”

Heloca agreed to submit his own suggestions to Planning Department staff within two weeks and said they would be “definitely ready for the December meeting.”