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Comment period open for Front Street project

By Staff | Nov 20, 2020

LAHAINA — The county Department of Public Works is proposing improvements to Front Street to protect the scenic thoroughfare; address extensive deterioration sustained by the seawall, sidewalk, railing, planters, benches and bollards from exposure to the salt environment and wave impacts; and ensure the long-term safety and structural integrity of these streetscape elements.

The Draft Environmental Assessment (Anticipated Finding of No Significant Impact) for the proposed Front Street Sidewalk, Railing, and Seawall Repair Project is published in the Nov. 8 issue of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control’s The Environmental Notice.

Citizens can review the Draft EA via https://health.hawaii.gov/oeqc/ and submit comments until Dec. 8. 2020.

Lahaina Restoration Foundation (LRF) Executive Director Theo Morrison encourages residents and business owners to review the Draft EA and offer suggestions.

“Lahaina is very much a walking town and it always has been. It is critical that the view planes, sense of place, street furniture and landscape reflect Lahaina’s historical significance while also providing modern day conveniences such as bike racks, benches, trash cans. This project is still in the planning stages, and now is the time to get involved and express your thoughts,” she said.

Work is proposed in two locations along historic Front Street.

Repair of pedestrian elements is slated in Project Area 1. The section is 715 feet long and extends from Dickenson Street to Lahainaluna Road on the makai (seaward) side of Front Street.

“Existing streetscape elements and the overhanging lip of the concrete wave deflector have deteriorated due to salt penetration, exposure to moisture, and chloride intrusion. Based on design parameters, consideration of the character of the area, public input, and the regulatory requirements for the Project Area, conceptual plans were prepared for the project repairs,” the Draft EA notes.

These improvements are under consideration:

• Removal and reconstruction of the deteriorated portion of the concrete wave deflector;

• Replacement of railing with new composite fiber and stainless steel railing system;

• Removal and reconstruction of upper portion of the deteriorated sidewalk surface with board form finish;

• Removal of the raised rubble masonry planters and replacement with at-grade planters;

• Replace overgrown trees;

• Removal of wooden bollards and patching with concrete;

• Replace existing light fixtures in Area 1;

• Repair of existing concrete stairs that provide public access to the beach area;

• Replacement of other street amenities, such as trash receptacles and bicycle racks.

Seawall repairs are slated in Project Area 2, a 730-foot section on the makai side of Front Street between Papalaua and Baker streets. This area encompasses a concrete rubble masonry wall and stacked, ungrouted boulder wall along the shoreline.

“Boulders have been displaced due to wave action, and further loss of the wall may impact Front Street,” the environmental study concludes.

The action proposed is to replenish boulders in the frontal wall that have been dislodged.

Both project areas are within the Lahaina National Historic Landmark District.

Morrison explained that business owners and the community have provided input for the project.

“LRF is in support of the Front Street Sidewalk, Railing, and Seawall Repair Project. LRF hosted a community meeting for Lahaina businesses in early March, so the county could present this project and get feedback. The county also held a community meeting at the civic center,” she said.

“In general, the community and merchants were supportive of the project, and the county made changes to the design based on the suggestions that were presented. One of the major changes that came out of the public meetings was the change from horizontal railings to vertical railings along the seawall in the 700 block of Front Street. It was pointed out by community members that kids could easily climb up the horizontal railings and fall into the rocks below,” she continued.

“LRF supports the removal of the existing kou trees and replacement with smaller native shade trees planted at grade, with free-standing benches, new bike racks, lamp posts similar to what was recently installed at the harbor front and oak barrel trash receptacles. LRF is well aware of the deteriorating pedestrian conditions of the seawall area in the 700 block of Front Street because LRF has maintained this area for decades. The kou trees have outgrown their planters and should be moved to a bigger space such as a public park.”

The foundation also expressed its support for new native trees along the seawall in the 700 block, which will not grow so tall that they impact views from second story restaurants.

“Unfortunately, the county has decided that it is not feasible to replant coconut trees along the seawall in the 900 block. The coconut trees have historically provided a very iconic sense of place at the north entrance to Lahaina. LRF will continue to research ways to replant coconut trees in this location,” Morrison explained.

The project involves the county-owned Front Street roadway, state-owned land seaward of the certified shoreline and a portion of private property located at the north end of the project areas.

Permits and approvals required for the project include (but are not limited to) a Special Management Area Use Permit, Shoreline Setback Variance, Historic District Approval, Conservation District Use Permit and construction permits.