Push for preservation: Subcommittee urges action at Laaloa Beach Park

  • A kuula, identified in county records as a fisherman’s god stone, rises above the shoreline at Laaloa Beach Park.

  • A portion of the old ahupuaa boundary wall is seen at Laaloa Beach Park. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Remnants of Haukalau Heiau can be seen at Laaloa Beach Park. (Photos by Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • A house foundation still stands at La‘aloa Beach Park. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — Years after the development of a preservation plan designed to protect historic properties at Laaloa Beach Park, a subcommittee of the county’s Cultural Resources Commission is pushing the county to make full implementation of that plan a priority.

While a report from that subcommittee acknowledges that some preservation actions have been taken, including closure of the parking area mauka of Haukalua Heiau last May, others have yet to be put in place, such as the placement of interpretive signs in the area.

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

The Cultural Resources Commission, tasked with advising government agencies on matters of historic preservation, was scheduled to consider a presentation on the Laaloa Beach Park preservation plan project as well as discuss a recent site inspection and report from its investigative subcommittee at a September meeting.

That meeting was canceled, however, because of a lack of quorum.

Among the eight historic sites and features that have been identified in the area are Haukalua Heiau, a kuula — or fisherman’s god stone — and a wall marking the boundary between the ahupuaa of Pahoehoe and Laaloa.

An archaeological site preservation plan was included in the 1997 final environmental assessment of the Laaloa Beach Park Expansion, which included several recommendations for preservation, among them the placement of interpretive signs.

Around a decade after that document came approval of a burial treatment plan and historic properties preservation plan, which reiterated earlier recommendations and outlined new ones, such as a redesign of the parking lot to accommodate a buffer zone extending 50 feet out from the heiau in all directions.

Then in 2014 the archaeology branch chief of the State Historic Preservation Division wrote to then-Mayor Billy Kenoi about preservation measures yet to be implemented at the park.

The letter followed a visit to Laaloa by the branch chief and two staff archaeologists.

In her letter, the branch chief referenced five measures identified in the burial treatment plan that had yet to be implemented including establishment of the buffer around Haukalua Heiau and removal of the parking area’s southern portion — and six preservation measures that had also been proposed but not implemented, including reconstruction of a representative section of the ahupuaa boundary wall and installation of interpretive signage.

“It has been eight years since the burial treatment plan was approved and six years since the preservation plan has been approved,” wrote the branch chief. “At this time it appears that the county Department of Parks and Recreation is knowingly violating the conditions set forth in the approved preservation plans.”

In August, members of the Cultural Resources Commission investigative subcommittee made a site visit to the Laaloa Beach Park preservation area to assess whether the historic sites are still there — all are, the report indicated — and also whether they were being preserved in accordance with the previous preservation plans.

The report indicates that some measures have been implemented since the site visit by the archaeologists from the State Historic Preservation Division.

In addition to the closure of the parking area, the subcommittee also reported that a temporary plastic fence has been placed along the 50-foot buffer zone around the heiau and a representative section of the ahupuaa boundary wall has been reconstructed. The report also says “general delineation of walking trails,” which are indicated in the preservation plan from 2006, has occurred.

But other elements of the plans still have yet to be implemented, including removal of the rock wall along the heiau’s mauka side, placement of interpretive/cautionary signs and the establishment of buffer zones around the other historic sites.

The subcommittee report also says the development and implementation of a landscaping plan for the area also has yet to occur, although it references a plan map completed this past March that detailed native plants that could be used in landscaping as well as proposed signage.

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According to the agenda of the Cultural Resources Commission’s canceled September meeting, the next meeting is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 10.

No agenda for that meeting had been posted online as of Friday afternoon.

  1. Buds4All October 2, 2018 9:01 am

    How Much?


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