Here's a riddle: When is a park not a park?
The residents of several Maui Lani developments in Kahului found out the answer. In February, they received a notice regarding the state government's plan for the long-awaited Central Maui Regional Park. It turns out, this "park," to be built immediately behind Maui Lani neighborhoods, is really a sports complex. The complex, with 12 lighted sports fields and parking for 600 vehicles, will take up 65 acres.
The distance between the sports complex and neighborhood homes is 50 feet!
The state is funding the purchase of the land and the initial build-out of the estimated $22 million project. They believe this gives them the right to design the park however they want. They have done so without considering the needs or desires of the community adjacent to the project. They can't even produce an assessment that says the playing fields are needed.
The neighborhood residents support the development of a "real" park and many support having more sports fields (in an appropriate location). However, putting 12 lighted sports fields right next to the homes of hundreds of Maui families is just plain crazy!
When you drive around Maui at night, you can see the lights from several different sports complexes from miles away. Imagine having those lights shining 50 to 100 feet from your house!
The noise is an even bigger factor. If you have a noisy neighbor who throws loud parties and disturbs your neighborhood, you have the right to call the police and ask that something be done.
What if you had hundreds of noisy neighbors that disturbed your neighborhood every weekend--all weekend long--and several nights during the week? And you just have to live with it. The state thinks that's OK. Would it be OK if it was your neighborhood?
This sports complex project is being completely driven from O'ahu. Homeowners have been told this is the lieutenant governor's "baby." An O'ahu company was hired to design the sports complex, working with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which is pushing this project through with pressure from the lieutenant governor's office.
Does that seem like the right process for developing a Maui County park?
State officials say they have met with homeowners and have done their due diligence. Ask them to cite one single significant change that was made to the original plans in order to accommodate homeowners' concerns and they will have nothing to say.
The homeowners of Central Maui want a true park--one that can be used by all of Maui's residents and visitors, not just organized sports groups. How about a dog park, playgrounds, picnic pavilions, a jogging path, basketball courts and green-space type of park? It would be less costly to build and maintain, more environmentally friendly, safer, more beneficial to the whole community, and would likely raise property values. Everyone wins.
The state is railroading this project. The DLNR Website shows they opened contractor bids for the project the week before the first public hearing (Planning Commission, March 25). Does this sound like they are interested in getting input from the Maui community?
It's our tax money. Let the state know we want a park that will serve Maui, not the interests of state officials.
Visit www.central-maui-sports-complex.com for more information.