Kalaupapa Settlement Seeing Growth
Peninsula designated “dream destination” by Life Magazine.
By Brandon Roberts
Larger airplanes are landing; bigger barges are planned in the harbor, and the National Park Service (NPS) is hiring more employees. There is no doubt, Kalaupapa is expanding.
Kalaupapa residents were informed at the monthly community meeting May 13 that their airport has new requirements due to the larger passenger planes that are now landing on the peninsula. Governor Linda Lingle has also appropriated just over one million dollars for pier construction and harbor facilities that should be completed by the fall of 2009.
Michael McCarten, administrator for the Department of Health (DOH), announced to residents that Life Magazine will contribute to the peninsula’s notoriety with the inclusion of Kalaupapa in a list of top 50 ‘dream destinations’. He said news was a total surprise and that state and federal officials were not informed prior to the designation.
The class three aircraft now using the Kalaupapa Airport can carry over 10 passengers requiring new codes and restrictions from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Hawaii Department of Transportation (DOT).
Kevin Funasaki, Airports Division project manager for DOT, told residents gathered in McVeigh Hall that a new perimeter fence will be built around the Kalaupapa Airport within the next year. The fence’s main purpose is to keep animals off the runway. Funasaki reassured residents that archeological sites would not be disturbed.
Completion of the new fence is dependent upon the barge service and new Kalaupapa NPS Supervisor Stephen Prokop informed residents that a one-year contract will be signed soon for continued barge service, and that the next barge will dock on July 19.
Prokop explained that the new contract will not be with Young Brothers (YB), who did not bid with the peninsula this year. Earlier this year, YB decommissioned a smaller barge to service the settlement.
Consultants from Leo A. Daly presented the new Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting plan for the airport, which will consist of a new building to house a fire engine and two firefighters.
Figures from April said the Kalaupapa settlement consists of 27 residents, 46 state Department of Health officials, 40 NPS employees, and one DOT employee. However, according to Prokop, Kalaupapa currently has six positions open, including a Law Enforcement Ranger, an Ecologist, and an Administrative clerk, as well as maintenance workers for the new solid waste facility.
Prokop added that besides the six jobs mentioned, an additional three will be added to the list soon. To accommodate the expanding workforce, 11 new housing units will be finished sometime in July.
Tourism and infrastructure expected to expand – patient pensions will also get a boost from the 2008 legislative session and the Department of Health. Patients can expect increased checks, as well as compensation from 2007, when the bill was introduced but not passed.
The next Kalaupapa community meeting is set for 11:30 a.m. on June 10 in McVeigh Hall. Settlement residents are also invited to a community block party on July 16 at 6 p.m.