Monday, October 15, 2012

Big Island Access Battle

I'm not personally familiar with all the details of the Papaikou Mill Beach access debate on the Big Island, but it boils down to this: should the County exercise its power of eminent domain or is there a less invasive way to resolve the situation?

I dislike using government to "take" private land, even if it's for the public good, because it creates ill will between the haves and have-nots and turns a question of beach access into allegations of class warfare.Yet if there were incentives for the private land owner to grant an easement -- say, a residential tax break -- perhaps the owners could find it in their hearts to allow the public to use that path within certain hours. I could be wrong, but it doesn't sound like the path is close to the owners' residence. Anyone out there know?

Here's the link to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald article and some excerpts from the story that ran last week:

Papaikou trail owners propose alternate route to beach

By TOM CALLIS, Tribune-Herald staff writer

The owners of the only trail to Papaikou Mill Beach have made an offer that may be hard for Hawaii County to refuse. Jim Waugh and Charlene Prickett told the County Council on Wednesday during a tour of their property that they’d build a new trail for the public themselves, expenses included, to prevent the taking of the current route through eminent domain.
The only problem: it would relocate the trailhead to private land they don’t own. And their neighbor isn’t too happy about it. “This is brand new to me that we’re offering our road,” said Steve Shropshire, who owns the land and road that would provide the starting point for a new trail, during the tour. “A phone call would have been nice.”
Charlene Prickett responded by telling him that the proposal would require their support.
Shropshire told the Tribune-Herald he isn’t inclined to offer his property, which he would like to redevelop as an “agricultural village,” adding he believes the current trail should remain in use. “I support the current resolution,” he said, referring the proposed eminent domain action, “as it is currently written.”
Still, Shropshire said any future development of the property, now used for agriculture, would include public beach access. Asked why he would oppose access through the land now, he said he doesn’t want to make any changes to the property before the area’s community development plan is finished.
The county is considering purchasing the existing trail and a private road through eminent domain in order to settle dispute over access between beachgoers, frustrated with some restrictions, and the owners...