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LETTERS for February 23 issue

By Staff | Feb 23, 2017

McKelvey seeks solution for traffic congestion

I would like to respond to “A call for action” by Dale Thompson that appeared in the Jan. 26 issue of Lahaina News. Mr. Thompson raised important issues of concern to residents of West Maui regarding the Lahaina Bypass project. I want to assure Mr. Thompson, as well as other Lahaina residents, that I have continued to work hard and remain focused on trying to forge an acceptable solution that achieves the project’s goals as originally envisioned. I wholeheartedly agree that the current design proposal simply moves the problem of congestion up the road. It does nothing to help realize a two-pronged traffic solution that many of us in the community believed would be the case from the beginning, many years ago.

As Mr. Thompson opined, the current design is flawed, because it simply shifts a bottleneck from point A to point B without eliminating the problem. I also agree with his assessment that the Department of Transportation (DOT) has failed to follow through on the design of the project as it was originally presented to the public. Instead, the DOT’s current plan fails to achieve the primary objectives of the bypass. It does not provide a way for local traffic to access southern Lahaina while simultaneously allowing traffic to expeditiously flow through the bypass to other points north. Because all traffic is routed through the bypass before reaching Kai Hele Ku Street, the congestion has merely been shifted to another location. Again, this is contrary to the plan originally presented to the community – that a two-pronged solution was the best approach.

I am personally disappointed that the DOT has been reluctant to meet with me or with the community to discuss this situation, as this critical problem needs to be addressed. DOT’s current plan is all the more exasperating, because DOT failed to attend the West Maui Taxpayers Association’s annual meeting in January to address the community’s concerns. Furthermore, the DOT did not offer any prior explanation to, or seek input from, the public before making decisions on design changes that Mr. Thompson has correctly described as flaws.

I share Mr. Thompson’s passion that a real traffic solution as proposed must be undertaken by the DOT, and stand ready to try to secure additional funding to that end. However, as a member of the Cost of Government Commission, I hope he can appreciate that a fix is not as simple as pulling money from one unrelated project, such as Lipoa Point, to redo the Lahaina Bypass. Because all funding for the highway project is done through the special highway fund, we are limited to only using only that fund. Again, I am committed to fight for additional funding for the special highway fund to rectify the situation. But, for the DOT to simply push things that are the most expedient because of their failure to encumber state and federal highway funds on time is not the fault of the community.

I am reassuring the members of the West Maui community that I share your concerns. The solution advanced by the DOT for the much-needed Lahaina Bypass project is ineffective. As such, I am writing a letter to the governor directly to request that he intercede with the DOT to at least, if nothing else, provide a community forum for Mr. Thompson, me, and others to express our frustration with the “one-size-fits-nobody” solution.

ANGUS L. K. MCKELVEY , Representative, 10th District


State’s change of management at Mala Wharf is fishy

I read The Maui News front page article “New management on deck at Mala Wharf,” and it seems pretty fishy that although the state intends to offer leases for sale at public auction, this one was done behind closed doors.

The other issue that was not brought up is that land use in revocable permits must conform to county zoning. The community plan designation for the parcel is “park” and the zoning is residential. Only noncommercial “park” uses are permitted in a residential district.

A harbor facility or boat yard that is commercial in nature is a permitted use in light industrial zones, not in residential or park. A special use permit cannot be obtained, because light industrial use is not consistent with the “park” designation in the community plan. Zoning and community plan problems would prevent a new permit being issued for any activity within the shoreline management area.

I wonder how the new permittee plans to get around these prohibitions at the county level? He can’t be grandfathered in, since his is not an ongoing, pre-existing, non-conforming use as Wilson Keahi’s has been. This is a new permittee/lessee for this property, and although the state may do whatever it wants, the same is not true for permittee/lesses. The real loser in all of this seems to be the boat tenants. State of Hawaii involvement is not making things better.



America should welcome refugees

Pope Francis, arguably the most revered Christian on the planet and the head of the Catholic Church, called on Europe’s Catholics to take in refugees.

Issuing a broad appeal to Europe’s Catholics last September, Pope Francis called on every parish, religious community, monastery and sanctuary to take in one refugee family – an appeal that, if honored, would have offered shelter to tens of thousands.

Facing the tragedy of refugees fleeing death by war and famine, and journeying toward the hope of life, the Gospel calls, asking of us to “be close to the smallest and forsaken among us,” a message that seemed to echo the Bible verse, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

Question: why paint all Muslims with the same brush when out of the 1.2 billion (the second largest religion on the planet), less than 15 percent are Arab Muslims? Muslims have committed less than 2 percent of terrorist acts in the United States. Radicalized Americans who joined ISIS make up the majority of terrorists.

Terrorists identified as “organic” Muslims do NOT adhere to the beliefs of Islam. To cite another example, in Christianity, Ireland used to have sectarian bombings between terrorists who called themselves Protestants and terrorists who called themselves Catholics. No one argued that all Protestants or Catholics were therefore terrorists.

The Quran specifically prohibits the killing of innocent people just as the Bible does. After the terrorist act at Sandy Hook Elementary, did America look for a religious affiliation to blame? No, in fact America has condoned terrorist acts like mass shootings by its refusal to make any effort toward increasing gun control. There are good and bad Muslims, just as there are good and bad Christians and Jews.

To fear all Muslims out of “Trumped up” political hatred is unwarranted and unfair. To hate all Muslims is to hate everything Christianity, Judaism and America stands for. Other countries have welcomed them by the thousands, yet we refuse even those already vetted in the name of party and political gain born of fear, not fact.

A ban will not stop the one terrorist among thousands of refuges or immigrants, or prevent a homegrown terrorist from committing murders under the guise of Islam. It goes against the covenants of all religions to turn your back on refugees fleeing terror, bombs and the destruction of their homeland.

This is not America – if it is, we need to send the Statue of Liberty back to France, which agreed to take 30,000 refugees in spite of the number of terrorist attacks committed in that country. I look at the faces of the children, big-eyed, hungry and scared, and see the faces of my own grandchildren were the circumstance of their birth different.



Why should Americans help arm terrorists?

The coverage of Tulsi Gabbard’s trip to Syria has failed to underscore the most critical point: why are many members of the media, along with many members of Congress, pushing for hard-working Americans to pay for military training, funding and weapons for militant groups that are directly working with al-Qaeda and ISIS to attack the Syrian government?

Why are they not taking a stand against this and applauding Tulsi for trying to end this insanity?

The smoke and mirrors campaign to try to obscure the real issue at hand is manipulative and dishonest. The people of Hawaii, and the people of America, deserve an answer to this very simple question: are the media and our members of Congress in favor of arming terrorists?

If not, then they need to actively support and sign on to Tulsi’s bill, the Stop Arming Terrorists Act.



Housing project causing gridlock

Aloha! Front Street is closed between Kenui Street and Mala Ramp going on three weeks now. This has created traffic gridlock in Lahaina. You cannot turn left from Kenui on to the highway, so you have all the traffic going back down Wainee Street trying to turn left onto Papalaua to get to the light to get back to the highway.

We are a tourist-based economy; our visitors are fed up and frustrated with the gridlock in Lahaina.

Goodfellow Bros is not sticking to any schedule as reported in the Lahaina News. The road was still closed at 5 p.m. on 2/10/17, creating a huge traffic mess – even worse with the 350 tourists trying to get to the Old Lahaina Luau at 5 p.m.

This needs to stop! Our business is suffering from the loss of all the drive-by traffic during the day, and the frustrations for our visitors and residents impacted by the road closure. We need some relief from this mess!

STEPHEN C. JUAREZ, Hawaiian Rafting Adventures Inc./Dive Maui, Lahaina


Project is definitely impacting traffic

I got a good laugh after reading the small article in last week’s Lahaina News titled, “Work on Kahoma Village may impact traffic on Front Street.”

For weeks, the closure of Front Street between Kai Pali and Mala Wharf has created complete gridlock at Papalaua Street as well as Lahainaluna Road.

I live on Kai Pali, and what should take two minutes now takes 45 minutes just to get to the cannery. I have taken to riding my bike, but that greatly limits what I can safely buy and carry. What a pain in the okole.