Neighbors helping neighbors has long been a core value on Maui. From sharing fresh fish and produce to offering a ride to the store or the doctor, Maui neighbors turn to each other in times of need and when new opportunities arise.
Carrying on that tradition is a group of neighbors who have begun meeting to form the Waimaha'iha'i District Neighborhood Association (WDNA). Their most recent meeting was held at Three's Bar & Grill in the Kalama Triangle.
According to Kevin Curry, who helped to initiate the meetings, a Google search of the area indicates approximately 200 to 400 residences. Curry is working with a Realtor to get a more accurate count.
Kevin Curry is the organizer of the Wāimaha‘iha‘i District Neighborhood Association. A resident of the neighborhood since 2004, he has always wanted to collaborate with his neighbors.
When asked why the group didn't join with the existing 50-year-old Kihei Community Association, Curry said, "The difference is a sense of scope and place. I have attended the Kihei Community Association meetings. I think that Kihei is so broad an area on Maui that I wanted a small enough place so that I could feel like I had bonded to my neighbor, and that the conditions and issues were pertinent just to the area where I lived."
While the mission statement and the by-laws are currently a work-in-progress with reports due back at the next association planning meeting, the organizers are reaching out with the idea of being a group that is "put together by neighbors for each other."
Among WNDA goals include building a community and a sense of place, collaboration, communication, cooperation, preserving property values, protecting the residential lifestyle, holding special events and developing a neighborhood watch program.
WNDA is projected to be a place where residents can share their vision and ideas, learn what Maui County has planned for the area's future, ensure the community's voice is heard at the county level, share resources, and perhaps most importantly, have fun.
As it develops, the WNDA is open to renters, owners and Realtors who have listings in the neighborhood, and anyone with an interest in preserving and improving the quality of life in the residences between Welakahao Road and Kupuna Street, from South Kihei Road up to the Pi'ilani Highway.
Waimaha'iha'i District resident Marnie Meuser, who has lived on Mehani Place cul-de-sac for the past seven years, came to the meeting because she wanted to see more of her neighbors and learn about how to address issues such as traffic and cars parked on Kupuna Street.
"Although I rent, I feel like a home owner, said Meuser. "Within that cul-de-sac, I know the neighbors really well there Where I live, it's a safe and wonderful neighborhood, and I just want to keep it that way."
Ken Janes, who has lived in the district since 1997, sees it as a "very quiet neighborhood with a nice mix of people" It's "an enjoyable place to live," he said.
Janes heard about the meeting and wanted to learn more. He believes that there are some areas that need attention, such as "street parking and things of that nature that need to be cleared up."
At their May meeting, Curry and others discussed concerns in the neighborhood, but stressed the social nature of the proposed organization. Among their concerns were crime, speeding on Kupuna Street, vandalism, repairing mailboxes, painting house numbers on curbs and the need for sidewalks, especially on Kupuna Street, where the lack of sidewalks and cars parked on both sides of the street prompts pedestrians to walk down the middle of street.
As a mature neighborhood, the area has many trees that may be reaching the end of their lifespan. One suggestion offered at the meeting was to have an arborist survey the neighborhood and discuss how to handle trees that may need to be removed, and how new trees could be planted.
The organizers have also developed a preliminary list of 27 ideas for neighborhood projects, including a neighborhood watch, neighborhood haul-away days, a lawn and garden club, neighborhood lighting, a biking and walking path on Liloa Drive, an "E Komo Mai" neighborhood welcome committee for new residents and a block party, among others.
Contacted at his office, Maui County Councilmember Don Couch welcomed the formation of the neighborhood association and said he hopes to attend the next meeting and offer any help he can to ensure its success.
The next meeting of the association is set for Thursday, June 27, at 6 p.m. with the location to be determined. For the location and more information, call Curry at 879-3977 or email him at WDNA@hawaii.rr.com.