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Community speaks out against proposed recycling center site

By Staff | Jun 4, 2009

LAHAINA — Last week Wednesday, the county Department of Environmental Management announced its intention to relocate the Keawe Street Recycling and Redemption Center to the intersection of Front Street, Ala Moana Street and Mala Wharf Approach Road.    

“Plans for the proposed center include several large roll-off containers to collect recyclable items, and a HI-5 redemption center for beverage containers,” stated department Director Cheryl Okuma at the public informational meeting at the West Maui Senior Center.

“We need to increase recycling in order to extend the life of the landfill,” she added.

The county hired Tom Meyers of Brown and Caldwell to design a recycling center between Lahaina Jodo Mission and Puupiha Cemetery.

In his brief presentation, Meyers explained why the current Keawe Street location and a Fleming Street site are unsuitable for recycling activities.

“These sites are too close to the Sugar Cane Train tracks,” he said. Meyers described the proposed site as “clean, odor-free and surrounded by a wall and high fence.”

Residents testified that they support recycling but feel it’s the wrong location. Others were surprised by the county’s proposal.

At the meeting attended by over 100 people, all of the testifiers spoke against using the area for recycling activities, mainly because of its proximity to Lahaina Jodo Mission and traffic congestion.

Donald Fujima of Lahaina Jodo Mission spoke about their support for recycling and the need to find a more suitable place.

Fujima discussed the “high traffic use by surfers, beach goers, picnickers and Jodo Mission visitors.

“Ala Moana goes to Baby Beach, and Mala Wharf is a dead-end street. Adding more traffic would cause many problems,” he commented.

“I am a recycler. The area should be a park, not a recycling center,” said Juergen Will of Saltwater Signs.

“Recycling should not be in a quiet residential area. Sounds of clanking glass and cans can be heard for a long distance,” remarked Lahaina resident Peggy Robertson.

West and South Maui Sen. Roz Baker pointed out that the proposed site does not meet the county’s criteria.

County Councilwoman Jo Anne Johnson praised the participants for speaking out on what’s important to their community.

This site marks the 27th West Maui location for a recycling drop-box center that has been rejected by the community.

In her written testimony, Evangeline Yacuk of Kahana wrote, “Currently, in most of Lahaina, households and condo complexes have curbside pickup for trash. Bins could be added for recyclables and green waste. The schedule could be to have garbage picked up every week and green wastes and recyclables picked up on alternate weeks.”

Yacuk would like to see a pilot project for curbside recycling in Lahaina “for people who throw everything into the trash.” She suggests that the redemption centers remain for “people who want to get money for their HI 5 containers.”

Written comments will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. on June 10, 2009, to: Director’s Office, Department of Environmental Management, One Main Plaza, 2200 Main St., Suite 100, Wailuku, HI 96793.
For more information on the proposed site, contact consultant Colleen Suyama at Munekiyo & Hiraga Inc. at 244-2015 or planning@mhplannning.com.