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Community Building

More turn out for community plan

As ordinary community members become planners and leaders, the Molokai Community Plan moves forward.

“What’s clear is this community is passionate about certain issues,” said senior planner David Yamashita.

Two weeks ago, the Maui County Planning Department hosted a workshop to begin brainstorming ways to improve the 2001 Molokai Community Plan. Last Saturday, another workshop was held to work out strategies.

Some strategies were broad, such as a wastewater and drainage plan, and some were specific, such as to revive Malama Cultural Park. Over 70 participants discussed what organizations and agencies would need to take part, but the conversations became heated when it came to identifying conflicts.

In one group that discussed ‘heritage resources’ – historical, cultural, and environmental resources – went back and forth over tourism. Participant Kelly Ka`awa Richardson said tourism “by nature is against culture.” But in a time of high unemployment, no idea can be overlooked. Group member Todd Yamashita suggested that pairing tourism with education better attracts visitors who complement Molokai’s culture.

 “It’s not important that we disagree, but how we resolve our differences,” said Steve Chaikin, current chairperson of the Molokai Planning Commission. “We’re all in this together.”

Youth Involvement
The planning department is also working with Molokai schools to get the future generations involved. Stan Ha`o, new principal of Molokai High School attended, as did Vicki Newberry, head of Aka`ula School. Aka`ula recently participated in a youth summit with three other schools for create their own vision plan for Molokai.

“There were many similarities to what our students came up with” with what the workshop discussed, Newberry said. “We need to tie these two together.

“It doesn’t mean they know all the answers or even all the questions,” she added. But…“We need to listen to [the younger generation].”

A Sense of Urgency
Although the process will take a few years, at the end of Saturday’s workshop many members expressed the need for continued motivation.

“There is a sense of urgency, we have a limited time to make choices,” Chaikin said.

David Yamashita said the planning department will now sort through all the comments and suggestions from the last two workshops, and will present the findings at an open house tentatively planned for early spring. Input is still solicited and welcomed until the next meeting.

“You guys are stakeholders, and it’s important for us to listen to the stakeholders,” said Molokai Councilmember Danny Mateo. “It’s all viable, all important. It’s a good start.”

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