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Tourism industry expansion calls for balance

I have been traveling to Kauai since 2000 and have enjoyed the laid-back, peaceful surroundings of the whole island. I come to see the real Hawaii — not the big city of Honolulu, nor the high-cost retailers in Lahaina.

I come for the girls rodeo, the luaus, the local craft fairs, farmers markets, the wonderful parks, the coziness of the community, talking story with the locals, the feeling of Ohana from the whole island. And yes, the salt ponds.

I am following the issue of Maverick Helicopter.

A few facts, from their website:

• Maverick Helicopters has over 23 years’ experience of making dreams come true;

• Maverick Helicopters has received an array of travel industry accolades and is the only company in the world to be named twice to the Travel Channel’s “Top 10 Best Helicopter Thrills in the World.”

One would think that being in business that long, and receiving so may awards, the company would know that permits to build are needed before the work is done.

Their philosophy is just do it, and ask for forgiveness later.

How many other companies do business that way?

Is that a good partner for the community?

The request for the permit states “to allow modifications to an existing helicopter tour facility that includes restroom facilities, office trailer, storage and associated improvements on a parcel located along the mauka side of Kuiloko Road in Hanapepe, situated at its intersection with Lele Road, further identified as 3441 Kuiloko Road.”

The vice president of Maverick Helicopters stated “the permits will allow us to repair, maintain and improve items associated with our lease agreement with the State of Hawaii. We are not attempting business expansion despite public perception” and that they fly out of Port Allen.”

That is not far from the Salt Ponds. And regardless, ground, noise, air and traffic pollution are increased. (Quotes from The Garden Island coverage June 24 and 26.)

Well, in my opinion they are looking to expand. What company wouldn’t?

They are anticipating that they will have many customers who will choose to fly with them, will need to accommodate them, and also provide hangar space for repairs.

In the future, as they increase their presence, they will add more and more.

Looking at the aerial view, they’ve made a lot of improvements. You know the saying “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”

I noticed during my most recent visit in March, there were many more tour boats, activity boats, and helicopters rounding the island. I noticed that my monk seal, whom I’ve seen yearly, did not visit the beach I was on. I noticed there were no dolphin pods near Anahola, which I love to watch.

I realize there is desire to retain culture and a desire to improve the economy. The Kauai County Planning Commission has a tough job ahead in balancing those two. I believe in keeping traditions.

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Sue Hallenberger is a resident of Aurora, Colo.
Source: The Garden Island

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