Thursday, August 25, 2011


PARKYAKARKUS: It was only a matter of time and everyone knew it.

So when the land gluttons Grove Farm announced they were putting up a gate and no trespassing signs at Kipu Falls after countless deaths over the decades- deaths of both locals and tourists, press reports notwithstanding- it wasn't unexpected.

But what was, if not surprising at least gut-grabbing, was the fact that they had offered to turn the area over to the county for a park and the county turned them down due to "liability" according to at least half a dozen press reports.

What- or more to the point "who"- the words "the county" refers to isn't stated but one can only assume it was the administration of Mayor Bernard Carvalho who, without letting anyone know, gave up the chance to obtain an incredible asset for the people of Kaua`i.

What's more it really isn't the administration's decision to make. The county charter makes it plain that the acquisition of property comes under the purview of the county council which apparently was not even asked since any communication would have had to have been placed on the council's agenda for any discussion to have taken place.

Instead, as is typical of Carvalho's administration, the decision was made behind closed doors with no input from the public.

"Liability" has been the cry of past administrations in rejecting donations of property. The second access to Kaupea (Secret) beach was turned down by the Kusaka administration citing liability, although rumor has it that Carvalho has told people that he's working on getting it "donated" to the county. That's fifteen years of no access to the second beach there which often becomes inaccessible from the current county access during the winter.

Liability can and should be able to be minimized and even eliminated, if we assume we actually have people with half a brain in the Parks and Recreation Department who can properly determine signage and other safety measures. Liability is related not to the inherent, natural dangers of an area but to the degree of negligence of the owner in the unique situation that is cited in a lawsuit.

The recent determination that the state was libel for the deaths of the tourist who fell off Wailua falls was not simply because the area is state property but because the signage was so poorly designed and placed that it apparently directed the woman off the cliff.

What Carvalho is essentially saying is that there's no one in his administration competent enough to minimize the liability inherent in owning Kipu Falls.

It's hard to say which is worse; the county turning down the potential gift of one of the most beautiful and popular spots on the island and one that attracts thousands of tourists every year or that they did it secretly without even asking the body that actually has the power to make that determination... much less asking the taxpayers and citizens who would have to bear any burden of any potential liability.

It's not too late for this outrage to be overturned. If you're as pissed off as we are, contact your council at and tell them that you want them to at least look into if not accept Grove Farms offer to turn Kipu Falls over to the county.

No comments: