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Gateway to problems

PRINCEVILLE — Some members of the Princeville community want to educate visitors about the dangers of Queen’s Bath before they arrive on island.

They also say the County of Kauai isn’t doing Princeville any favors by keeping the gate across the Queen’s Bath trailhead locked.

It’s all outlined in a report the Queen’s Bath citizen committee submitted to the Princeville at Hanalei Community Association earlier this month. The committee is made up of Princeville residents, many of whom live across from the trailhead.

“By keeping the Queen’s Bath gate locked, the county is ‘aiding and abetting’ the destruction of this green space,” committee members say in their report.

Cited in that report are issues relating to Queen’s Bath, like traffic, parking, unsightly views, noise, trail access, safety and awareness.

“Addressing the (Queen’s Bath) issues is complex,” members say in their report. “There are many factors. The QBC (Queen’s Bath Committee) believes that current issues can be alleviated using several recommendations, some achievable in the short-term, some requiring more time to implement.”

Access to the trailhead is but one of the issues cited in the report, but the gate across the trailhead is one of the more visible issues.

The gate and a length of chain-link fence were erected across the Queen’s Bath trailhead in September. PHCA paid for the fence, which extends to the property boundary just past the trailhead. The county decides when the gate should be open and when it should be closed.

Crossing past the closed gate is considered trespassing when it’s closed.

The gate’s been closed for six months straight, with people trespassing in a near-constant line, and as of early May not a single trespass violation has been issued. The Kauai Police Department has issued at least 10 parking citations since June 2018.

County officials say staff check for surf conditions and water advisories daily. As of early May, officials have decided to keep the trail closed until “more consistent surf heights are reported.”

“The surf on the North Shore is still very inconsistent,” said Deputy County Engineer Lyle Tabata on Thursday. “The gate will reopen when ocean conditions are deemed safe.”

The QBC, however, maintains the gate should be dismantled.

“The fence and gate have not proven to be effective,” they say in their report. “Some recommend removing the fence as well, others believe the fence and warning signs help convey the dangers of Queen’s Bath.”

If that fence remains, however, residents want it covered with some sort of vegetation to improve the look of the area.

When it comes to traffic and parking, the QBC suggests removing parking from trailheads and allow it only in places like the Makai Golf Course or at the Princeville Shopping Center.

That would reduce the number of cars on the roads and eliminate the parking situation at the trailhead, and would dissuade people who might be unprepared for taking on the trailhead.

“Visitors should be clearly informed of the effort required to walk the trails,” committee members say in their report.

The committee also points out concerns about the land encompassing the Queen’s Bath access, pointing out it’s for sale. They say developing the parcel would make it difficult to maintain public access to Queen’s Bath. The county says the easement and parking lot would not be impacted by a property sale.

Trail maintenance is necessary, according to the QBC, which describes the trail as “in very bad shape,” with daily traffic that “contributes to its deterioration.” They suggest a volunteer force to maintain the trail.

In the end, QBC members acknowledge that Queen’s Bath is a “gem” of the North Shore — though not the only one — frequented by visitors. They suggest a social media campaign to help build up awareness of dangers before people start the hike down the twisted path to the rocks.

Rory Enright, PHCA president, points out that PHCA doesn’t have a lot of influence on what happens at Queen’s Bath.

The county controls when the gate is open, holds the pedestrian easement and owns the parking lot. PHCA does, however, have the ability to launch awareness campaigns and other tools to address neighborhood issues, he said.

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Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or jelse@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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