By Wendy Osher
Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa explained how the county and Maui businesses are trying to do more with less resources during an annual address made before the Maui Chamber of Commerce.
“Very basically, at the Chamber event, we addressed a lot of the business proposals that are coming through; and the fact that we are trying to change the way government works and the way we process things,” said Mayor Arakawa in an interview in which he recapped the event.
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Mayor Arakawa addressed a road maintenance backlog and an approach that aims to fix roads as fast as they deteriorate.
With more than 900 miles of road, Mayor Arakawa said he went to the council to request funding.
“Three years ago, there was $12 million budgeted; last year we budgeted $18 million; This year (there is) $31 million. But in order for us to be able to catch up with the road repairs… we’re suggesting that we need to bring it back to about 25 to 30 years so that we’re actually repairing the roads as fast as they deteriorate–so we can catch up and keep the quality of life really good for the community,” said Mayor Arakawa.
Mayor Arakawa said it was taking 40 to 50 years before the county was addressing road repairs, when roads start showing bad deterioration at around 25 to 30 years.
“This kind of a cycle can only lead to deterioration and more problems with the road structure,” the mayor said about the way the backlog was being addressed.
Addressing Deteriorating Water Lines
Mayor Arakawa also highlighted similar circumstances in major departments including the Department of Water Supply where he said in the past, emergency repairs have been done as lines deteriorate.
He said developers and property owners end up coming in and doing major repairs during construction or improvement of their property.
“We’re suggesting that this is causing our system to deteriorate more and more and it’s creating bigger and bigger problems,” said Mayor Arakawa. “What we really need to do is, we need to be able to engineer all of the work that needs to be done; and we need to systematically start doing all of the repair, maintenance and upgrades of all of the different systems.”
Mayor Arakawa said that with a backlog of repairs, the county would have to restructure its approach in order to ensure water service is dependable.
“We just cannot keep allowing more and more to deteriorate, and just hoping and praying that somebody will come in and fix it for us.”
The mayor also expressed interest in connecting all systems which he described as “disjointed.”
“Hana has its own water system; Kula has its own water system; Kahului has its own water system; Lahaina has its own water system. The whole process doesn’t allow one system to be able to help the other. By engineering all of the different systems, and starting to plan for how we’re going to be working with them… We also need to connect all of the systems,” he said.
Building for the Future: “We have a real jewel in Maui County”
“We have to be very realistic and that’s the picture I’m trying to paint to the public, and to the Chamber members,” said Arakawa.
“We have a real jewel in Maui County, and we have the ability to be able to make all of the corrections,” he said, ” We just have to take a very real world look at it and then objectively start making the repair and maintenance to upkeep what we need to do.”
“This is with our sewer systems, our water, our roads system, our county buildings and facilities,” he said.
“Doing the analysis as to when we need to do this needs to happen for all of our facilities,” said Mayor Arakawa.
Mayor Arakawa was encouraged by the economic recovery on Maui saying, “I think most of the business community is beginning to feel that the economy is starting to move.”
He pointed the to the county’s first Friday events in Makawao, Paia, Lahaina and Wailuku, saying they are attracting more people and getting more attention as the concept grows.
The construction industry is starting to pick up business as well, he said. “Even with the outlet mall that’s being planned for Kihei, that will create another thousand jobs. So, people that are sitting right now at home wanting to find jobs, that will be a great opportunity,” he said.
Mayor Arakawa called it “a give and take” as communities start to advance. “If we’re going to be able to provide the jobs and the opportunities for people, there are sacrifices that have to be made along the way. So, some of the open spaces will now have buildings on them; but the main objective is to have a high quality of life for our community,” he said.
“While we’re building shopping malls, we’re also building parks–the Central Maui Park, we’re in the process of working with the council to acquire about 220 acres coupled with another 80 acres that the state’s picking up that will be about 300 acres in Central Maui.”
In Lahaina, the county is looking at trying to create the Pali-to-Puamana coastal park, and also acquire property so that the state highway can moved away from the coastline erosion.
“We’re planning for a community 50, 100, 200, years from now–those parks will be there and the quality of life for the community can be enhanced,” said Mayor Arakawa.
Also in West Maui the county has been working with the Friends of Moku’ula to try and revive the historic site.
“It will also be able to serve as a cultural site where we teach people about the ancient culture and the significance of what happened in the Hawaiian kingdom,” said Mayor Arakawa.
“So, all of these things when you start putting them all together, they’ll start showing that as an administration, we’re not only trying to put out fires; we’re trying to be proactive, not just reactive,” said Mayor Arakawa.
“We’re trying to make sure that 25 to 50 years from now we’ll have a community that has a much better quality of life than what we have today. That should be our goal–to make sure that our children and our great-grandchildren have a community that they could be proud of as well,” he said.*** For more photos of this event please check out the Maui County Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/