Well, the County Council can pat itself on the back for accomplishing something that pleases people this election year: allowing dogs — licensed, leashed and properly doo-doo bagged, mind you — on the entire length of the Path, save for a quarter-mile section that fronts Lydgate Park.
That way they can have a steady source of revenue from citations issued to dog walkers who unwittingly venture into a section made off-limits because, well, because Councilman Dickie Chang thought it should be.
Poor Councilman Kaipo Asing confessed to “zillions of sleepless nights thinking about the consequences” of — gasp — putting people with dog phobias in close proximity to leashed dogs. You know, because they otherwise wouldn’t encounter any dogs in their day-to-day life and there’s absolutely no place else they can go to recreate on this island.
He was worried about whether the bill would be fair to the minority who are afraid of dogs. Well, what about the minority who are afraid of what a concrete choker will do to the eastside coastline and its few remaining wilderness coves that are slated to be overrun by the jogging, biking, dog-walking, baby-strollering masses?
Councilman Jay Furfaro had his own worries: what the state might think of leashed dogs walking on the Wailua Bridge or alongside the highway at Wailua Beach. Um, how come he’s not worrying about what Hawaiians and conservationists have already said they think about running the Path through a sacred area and on the crest of the sand dune?
And Councilman Darryl Kaneshiro, well, he didn’t vote yes and he didn’t vote no. He just remained silent. Now that’s the kind of thoughtful, decisive leader we want to return to the Council.
Up on the northwestern end of the island, we have another path issue, with Paul Curtis reporting that an astounding 500,000 people walk between Kee and Hanakapiai each year. Wow, that’s about 1,370 people per day. If you figure 10 hours of daylight, that’s 130 people every hour. Kinda plenty for a so-called "wilderness park." In fact, the crowds are so thick it makes it hard to repair the trail so, you know, more people can hike on it.
A local friend said he was returning from bow-hunting in Hanakoa one recent Saturday and was shocked by the numbers of tourists he encountered. “There must have been 200 people on the beach at Hanakapiai. It looked like Waikiki. There wasn’t a bare patch of sand anywhere, and more people were walking up the stream, into the valley. I couldn’t believe it."
Meanwhile, Thomas Noyes, who so altruistically pushed the Path and is now pushing Councilman Tim Bynum’s re-election campaign, has landed himself a job with the Kauai Action and Planning Alliance (which is slotted to receive $37,000 in county funds next year, but no conflict there) managing its Na Pali Trail restoration project.
But the locals who live up there and thought they might be hired to help with that $1.2 million project are instead expected to volunteer their time, even though Hanakapiai has turned into yet another place where they just don’t go anymore.
Of course, the hordes hiking the trail do not come equipped with their own doo doo bags, which means they’re using the bathrooms at Kee, which means the old bathrooms were getting overwhelmed and leaching onto burials and sacred sites, which means a new “solution” had to be devised in the form of a “constructed wetlands” sewage treatment system that might actually end up polluting the real wetlands and the taro patches and the fish pond and had the local boys who take care of the end of the road upset about burials and artifacts that were being moved, without proper cultural consultation, during the construction process, prompting a heated meeting up there yesterday.
But never mind. The tourists are happy, and that’s all that matters.