My Turn: Kona’s changed, is there any getting it back?

Another letter on a pretty hackneyed problem …

I used to come to Kona every year until I finally moved here recently.

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The town of 25 years back I remember so well is practically no longer here. There are good sides to it, there are bad ones. Life goes on, and there’s no stopping it.

I have been watching with sadness the number of homeless increasing year in, year out. A couple of years back their encampment was removed from the entrance to the Old Kona Airport Park. So, apparently, there are solutions to the problem — although, through their very nature, they are only temporary.

Have you people been to the northern end of the park lately? It used to be such a wonderful place for finding peace and quiet, watching sunsets, reading, having a picnic. All in the past. The whole wonderful place has turned into a township of tents, improvised hearths, hammocks, what not.

Have you tried to stroll through it? No, no, you will not be attacked. But the place does not exactly smell like Hawaiian flowers. In fact, what it smells of would horrify epidemiologists. San Francisco, LA, Seattle and the other over-tolerant cities know this problem very well, and because of the feckless local governments are losing the fight.

Is Kona going the same way?

What was done two years ago to remedy the situation can obviously be done again. So where is the will?

Why should there be an obviously disturbed guy (by the name of Tito) living there in the bushes in filth and debris? Why is he not being looked after by mental health specialists? He is a nice guy all right — maybe except for the days when he doesn’t feel good.

You see, this is what is so really hopeless about the whole situation: Kona is full of Pollyannas who think that the homeless are just nice people low down on luck. The annoying thing about it is that they — the Pollyannas — live in a totally protected world or financial prosperity, inside of their enclosures, so they don’t really have to be in constant contact with this reality of our lives. They can afford romanticizing it, while in the meantime, Kona is going — to the homeless?

Please, please, please help me to wake up the powers-that-be and make them do something.

I don’t have any ready-made answers. I don’t know how to fix it. All I know and see is that the situation has been steadily deteriorating.

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Thank you for your constructive input. Please refrain from useless ruminations if possible.

Igor Levchenko is a resident of Kona.