County Council Update

Gosh these are busy times, but definitely we are accomplishing a lot. Two current projects that I am so glad are moving forward together on are the County General Plan revision and the North Hawaii Blue Zones Project.

As I mentioned in the past, we are now re-evaluating our County’s island-wide priorities and policies. To advance this discussion, I prepared a draft revision of the Plan’s section on Policies and Goals, which draft was discussed at the August 4 Council meeting. To obtain a copy please call my office. Feedback would be much appreciated.

At this same time, the national organization, Healthways, is initiating a three-year Blue Zones certification project for North Hawaii and East Hawaii. It is being sponsored by HMSA. The Blue Zones project is focused on ways we as a North Hawaii ohana can provide our communities with more opportunities for optimal health.

In keeping with that objective, on August 1 Healthways consultant Dan Burden, along with County Planning Director Duane Kanuha and the folks heading up the statewide and Hawaii Island Blue Zones projects, met with District 1 communities and the District 9 communities of Waimea, North Kohala, and Waikoloa. The focus of these meetings was to “built environment,” meaning additional physical infrastructure we can get in place in the next three years that will promote more active lifestyles. The aim will be to come up with at least one short-term goal and one long-term legacy goal. Here are just a few of the ideas we brainstormed on:

WAIMEA: 1) install adult fitness equipment along the Parker Ranch Connector Road (Ala Ohia Road) out to the District Park scheduled to open in 2016; 2) complete the Waimea Trail and Greenway trails I-IV and tie phase IV into the Old Government Road that connects to Mana Road; 3) open the Lindsey Road Extension to the Connector Road and complete the Connector Road to Kamamalu to start with at least for pedestrian and other non-vehicular traffic; 4) add more park benches and picnic tables around town and at parks for seniors; and 5) add a bandstand at Church Row.

NORTH KOHALA: 1) complete the Roots Skate Park; 2) add more park benches and picnic tables around town and at parks for seniors; 3) add more sidewalks along Akoni Pule Highway, 4) open Pratt Road and the Old Government Road from Makapala to Waimea; and 5) complete the King’s Trail around the coastline that would tie all the North Kohala Parks and public Open Lands together.

WAIKOLOA: 1) fill sidewalk gaps; 2) make parks more inter-generation and senior friendly; 3) promote more events like the Wiliwili Festival to bring residents and families together, including mothers and infants; 4) install adult fitness equipment; and 5) create a trail around the community perimeter firebreak, and possibly also around the entire Waikoloa Village property.

At each of these meetings, we discussed how over the past few generations, both youth and adults do less walking and expect to drive almost everywhere, even for short distances. It was pointed out that mass transit from community to community promotes more walking.

Attendees stressed the need for safe ways for pedestrians and bicyclists, even if less convenient for automobiles. There was also a lot of discussion about keeping our parks in better condition, such as the tennis courts and bathrooms. Everyone agreed that at the same time we need to focus on cultural/historic identity and connectivity to the beauty of our natural environment in each of our communities. So put on your thinking caps and be part of this conversation. Your thoughts on how to promote more active lifestyles are very welcome. Email or call my office with your suggestions at [email protected] or 887-2043.

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