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New Wainiha center design addresses community concerns

WAINIHA — Planners unveiled the Wainiha Community Resilience Center’s final design Wednesday, reviewing changes made since preliminaries were presented to the public two years ago.

The center, for emergency and community services, was conceived in the aftermath of the 2018 North Shore floods.

“We’ve known for a very long time that the Wainiha and Ha‘ena areas desperately need access to public safety services and many other community services and public facilities,” Alan Clinton told attendees at Wednesday’s virtual public meeting.

Clinton, with the county Planning Department, is the Kaua‘i Emergency Management Agency’s resilience center project manager.

Last year’s Hanalei Hill landslide and the community feedback that followed prompted designers to reevaluate their plans for the center.

“We developed an updated design over the last eight months or so, trying to find a way to work within the parameters of what we’ve been hearing,” Clinton said.

North Shore residents’ chief concerns have included burial disruption mitigation, wastewater and community resource storage space at the planned construction site.

Changes to reduce ground disturbance are most apparent when viewing a rendering of the new center design.

The planned facility, first depicted as an elevated structure, has been dropped closer to the ground for post-on-pier construction.

“You have a much lower structure, and with that comes smaller footings, smaller piers and less digging,” said Lance Delos Reyes, of contractor Unlimited Construction Services.

An underground tank for fire suppression has also been removed, and gravel will now be used in areas previously slated for concrete or asphalt.

The center’s final design also features a raised-bed septic system at the rear of the site.

“With the raised beds, we are no longer digging deep into the ground with a septic system,” Delos Reyes said.

The center will be located at the site of the former Ha‘ena School on Kuhio Highway. Planners project ground-breaking will occur sometime in June, pending receipt of permits.

Cultural monitor Milton Ching and archaeology company Cultural Surveys Hawai‘i will meet with builders prior to construction.

Ching and Cultural Surveys Hawai‘i will also be-onsite when work is underway.

“In the event we hit kupuna iwis, there’s a checklist that Cultural Surveys has to abide by,” said Ching, who also reviewed the Wainiha site’s history at the meeting.

The multi-step burial mitigation plan includes notification to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ State Historic Preservation Division, Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau Island Burial Council and Kaua‘i Police Department.

Center services

The proposed center will contain a satellite office for the DLNR and two offices for KPD and Kaua‘i Fire Department.

In addition, the final design features a certified kitchen, showers and bathrooms, emergency power generation, storage for emergency supplies, a management office and a staging space for emergency resource distribution.

The center’s covered lanai will be a “flex space” for community meetings and gatherings, and a nearby, three-bay garage will serve for storage and possibly firefighting equipment.

DLNR, KPD and KFD won’t be the only organizations making use of the center.

“Ever since the concept for this facility was proposed, having a community organization or nonprofit group play a central role in the long-term management of the facility has really been a key,” Clinton said.

Planners have met with Hui Maka‘ainana o Makana, Malama Kua ‘Aina, the Hanalei Watershed Hui and other groups, in regard to the center.

“These groups are all doing amazing work and have expressed interest in greater involvement, to varying degrees,” Clinton said. “At this time, we have received a formal letter of interest from a community organization to help to steward this center, and we are certainly open to other nonprofits who are interested to continue this engagement and dialogue.”

Attendees at Wednesday’s meeting came with questions, but expressed general approval of the final design. Some requested planners assess the potential for solar panels and an onsite garden.

Clinton could not answer certain inquiries related to site operations because the long-term management plan remains in the offing.

County, DLNR, KPD, KFD and community groups will have to come together to find answers, he explained.

“I don’t know if there’s been a collaboration of this nature, where it’s a state parcel with a county-owned building and a nonprofit manager. We’re kind of veering into some unknown waters here,” Clinton said. “We have a chance to figure out a new way to develop a partnership that we can weave together, but that will require discussion and dialogue.”

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Scott Yunker, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or syunker@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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