Sunday | September 24, 2017
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Council mulls Papaikou beach access

It took a series of packed community meetings and a petition drive to get the Hawaii County Council to back the purchase of an easement for the Papaikou Mill Beach trail.

But actual acquisition, through the eminent domain process, takes more than a council resolution, and the funding needed to make the path public still appears anything but certain.

Mayor Billy Kenoi’s proposed budget doesn’t include funding for purchasing a trail easement, which is causing concern for those who pushed to put the only access to the beach under the county’s control.

Finance Director Nancy Crawford said the money for an easement, which would not come from the open space fund, could not be found for the next fiscal year that begins in July.

The $370.8 million proposed budget is 1.5 percent larger than this year’s fiscal plan but still includes “major sacrifices” and program cuts, she said.

“It’s kind of in our court right now,” Crawford acknowledged. “We’ll move on this as (fast as) we can based on funding and time line availability.”

Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter, whose district includes Papaikou, said the council has been left with an “empty cart.”

Before moving ahead with the eminent domain process, the county would need to conduct an appraisal to determine just compensation.

Poindexter said she plans to seek funding for an appraisal when she meets with other council members for budget talks that begin today, though she acknowledged that any further action would likely have to wait another year.