Changes are afoot on the westside of Kauai, but they have nothing to do with the seed fields that have gotten all the attention lately — at least, not directly.
Along with pesticides and their “bubble gum” masking agents, the scent of development is now in the air, with Gay & Robinson's Kapalawai resort project moving forward again, Kikiaola Holdings installing a developer as chairman of its board and PMRF ramping up.
But before I delve into that, let's get back to these seeds for a moment. A ballot initiative seeking to ban all GMO agriculture on Maui, Lanai and Molokai has been rejected because more than half the signatures are invalid. This, despite — or perhaps because of — an anonymous donor paying $5 per name for signatures. The payments were being made through SHAKA, a nonprofit headed by high-end Realtor Mark Sheehan.
Kinda makes you wonder about the fate of the Kauai Rising charter amendment, and who is really behind the anti-GMO movement with its pro-upscale development connections.
Now back to our own west side. Kikiaola Holdings, which has extensive land in the Waimea area, recently installed George Christensen, an Oahu real estate developer and building contractor, as its board chairman. Previously, the Board had been chaired by descendants of H.P. Faye, who incorporated the land when the Kingdom of Hawaii was still recognized. But with Mike Faye stepping down and an outsider — and developer — coming in, it seems to signal a shift.
Meanwhile, the Kapalawai resort project, which was ready to roll when the economic downturn derailed it, has been resurrected under the auspices of Canadian developer Derek Trethewey. He stirred up a controversy in his homeland over his plans to clearcut and develop Salt Spring Island, where he promised residents: “We are being as careful as we can. We want to do the right thing.” The struggle resulted in a documentary originally titled, “Ah... The Money, The Money, The Money.”
As president and CEO of Okanagan Land Development Corp., Trethewey oversaw development of numerous projects in British Columbia, including The Cove Lakeside Resort, The Outback Vernon, The Lakes, Bowen Island Lodge. His LinkedIn profile claims:
His philanthropy and commitment to community service is renowned.
Tretheway also has a litigious history, including suing protestors who chained themselves to logging trucks and trees. In other legal action, Caesar's Palace casino won a judgment and garnishing order against him over $71,005 in unpaid gambling debts, and a California couple won a judgment of $101,754 against him in a case involving loans and gambling debts owed Harrah's Casino.
And now he's here, gambling he rake in a pile at Kapalawai. The County Council already approved zoning for a 250-unit resort with restaurants, a pavilion, lu'au grounds, a museum, bar, swimming pools, spa, sport courts and a club house, and the state Land Use Commission allowed the 160-ace parcel to be reclassified from agriculture to urban.
In other words, the “entitlements” are in place, which means Trethewey can move forward, though he's apparently come up with a different model than the 500-square-foot stand-alone cottages that were previously planned. The new proposal has been likened to Pierre Omidyar's Hanalei Ridge development, with upscale vacation homes along the coast and clustered multi-family visitor accommodations behind it. The property includes about 4,400 feet of shoreline between Makaweli Landing and Po'o Point.
As part of the original proposal, which had strong westside support, the developer was supposed to include shoreline access and a 70-stall lot that would allow surfers to park closer to the break at Pakala.
And finally, as The Garden Island reports, the future is all gangbusters for PMRF, which wil play a larger role in the annual Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) multinational war games and future trainings:
For the last 20 years or so, the Navy has resorted to the desert for a lot of its training and testing, according to [base commander Capt. Bruce] Hay.
“Well, we’re coming back,” he said. “The band’s coming back to the Pacific and our Marines and our Air Force and our Army need places to train.”
In addition to RIMPAC, Hay said there will be a lot of activity out at PMRF this summer — from rocket launches and Boeing V-22 Ospreys flying around to NASA’s test flight in early June of the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator, a saucer-shaped rocket designed for future missions to Mars.
“In between all the other cool stuff, like rockets and balloons and all the other stuff, you’re going to see a steady drum beat of our brothers and sisters in arms coming here to Kauai,” he said. “It’s a good thing for Kauai and it’s a good thing for PMRF, or IPRF (Inouye Pacific Range Facility).”
Perhaps, if you're thinking only in terms of “Ah... The Money, The Money, The Money.” But let's not get so caught up in the rah-rah that we forget all that way cool stuff is ultimately intended to main, kill and destroy.
And let's not forget all the money generated by that groovy training comes with a price: adverse impacts on marine mammals, marine ecosystems and our own peaceful way of life.