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LETTER: Resident Speaks Out on Proposed Waiehu Golf Closure

Posted March 10, 2017, 08:03 AM HST Updated March 10, 2017, 11:12 AM HST
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Below is the text of a letter Maui Now received late last night from concerned resident Scot Kerivan following Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa’s announcement of a proposed closure of the Waiheu Municipal Golf CoursePlease let us know how you feel by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below.

*Editor’s Note: Letters to the Editor do not reflect the opinions of Maui Now.

Maui Now graphic.

“Aloha Mr. Mayor,

I’m writing, as a concerned Waihee resident and property owner, in response to your proposed closure of Waiehu Golf Course.

This is a horrible idea!

First of all the course sees huge traffic, its wildly popular.

Second, to say it’s operating at a loss is disingenuous given the high tax rate in Maui county and the fact that nearly every park in the world operates “at a loss” or more specifically as a public service to the tax payers. A municipal park department that is revenue neutral would be considered a great success. Parks are designed for taxpayer use not as revenue centers.

Thirdly, if you require more revenue from the project do what any capable manager would do with a product that flies off the shelf… raise the price! We just incurred a rate increase this past year and usage has not been radically impacted in the negative.

As much as any Maui golfer would hate to see a rate increase, I’m fairly sure that they would prefer a rate increase to the closure of the most popular golf course on the island and the only inexpensive one.

Waiehu golf course is one of the greatest assets to the local golf community and is one of the most beautiful municipal golf courses in the US.

Do you want to be remembered as the mayor that robbed the community of one of its favorite recreation areas?

I can think of only three possible reasons that you would propose such a wildly unpopular measure…

1. Your term is up so you can’t be re-elected and you’re in the pocket of the resort industry, who would love to force local people to pay upwards of $50/round.

2. You know that raising the rates is a tough sell and this is a political gambit that will force the public to support rate increases rather than lose their course.

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3. You would like to sell off the gorgeous ocean front County land to a developer.

For the sake of the county I sincerely hope it’s #2.

If you want to “fix” Waiehu Golf Course, raise the rates, continue to improve the turf conditions and maybe add a few fairway bunkers with the increased revenue. Also stop allowing 6-somes to go out, it kills the pace of play and ruins the experience for everyone behind them.

Hawaii has a tremendous history of support and success in junior golf, and while golf is currently shrinking in participation globally it is very popular in Maui. Waiehu Golf Course quality and affordability allow golfers of all ages to go out and play for the price of a couple buckets of balls.

I find it very difficult to believe that Oʻahu can support a slew of municipal golf courses, and Maui can’t make a single course with ample traffic work for the community. Moreover, does Maui really want to be the only island without an inexpensive local course? Even Lanai/Molokai have one!

If the course isn’t performing financially, manage it, don’t shut it down!

Waiheʻe/Waiehu is an up and coming area including great beaches and some of the county’s best hiking trails. The golf course is an asset to the area and should be a central jewel in a well planned re-development.

The county brought in over a half billion dollars in revenue in FY2016 up nearly 37 million from FY2015. With all the wasteful government spending that exists in the county budget I find it very difficult to believe that the $1.63 million the course is costing to run is killing the budget. Not to mention that in the same breath you said “it’s operating at close to a $3 million dollar loss.” And then specified the number to be 16.3 million over the last ten years, which is around $1.63 million, not $3 million.

If this proposal goes forward, voting for you will become one of the deepest regrets of my life.

I sincerely hope this letter represents the first drop in a deluge of community outcry in opposition to this awful proposal and you are influenced to cancel this proposal forthwith.

Mahalo,

Scot Kerivan”

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