HILO — The Papaikou Mill beach trail may not become public just yet.
Acquiring an easement for the path and the road to it through eminent domain, as authorized by the Hawaii County Council on Nov. 21, would require both a property appraisal and legal action.
The funding to accomplish that was not identified, and Mayor Billy Kenoi said he doesn’t have the funds available to begin the process.
Kenoi put the responsibility of identifying a funding source on the council, and suggested the matter may have to be resolved through the next budgeting process.
Council Chairman J Yoshimoto said he’s open to allocating funds during this fiscal year, but added it may make sense to wait until the next budget.
Kenoi will submit his proposed budget to the council Feb. 28, he said. The budget would take effect July 1.
A new council was inaugurated on Monday, and only three of the last nine members remain.
Valerie Poindexter, the new representative of District 1, which includes Papaikou, said she supports public access to the beach, and wants it to “be in sync” with the community development plan for the area.
Jim Waugh and Charlene Prickett, the owners of the trail, couldn’t be reached for comment.
They said they built the path after buying the land in 1995 and have allowed access since for about 12 hours a day.
Some users objected to the time restrictions and other rules enforced by the couple, leading to the push for a public easement.