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Taking the Wheel

General Management Plan for Kalaupapa is on the move

By Catherine Cluett

Kalaupapa is at a crossroads, and Molokai residents have the opportunity to decide which route it takes. “The National Park Service is guiding the process but not determining it,” explains General Management Plan Project Manager Anna Tamura. That’s up to community members.

The General Management Plan is viewed as a guiding blueprint for the National Park Service to follow in the coming 20 years. The first of its kind for Kalaupapa, the plan will include two phases – a short term plan while the patients are still living, and long-term vision for what Kalaupapa will be like after patients are no longer present, according to Steve Prokop, National Park Superintendent for the peninsula.

The first of a long series of public meetings took place in Kaunakakai last Wednesday. A target date of winter 2012 has been set for the completion of the General Management Plan.

Preservation
For Molokai residents involved in the process, preserving the sacredness of the place will be one of the priorities in the coming years. Insuring that Kalaupapa remains intact in its current capacity of honoring its history, people and place is paramount for many as well.

“I think we’re all here for one thing – to preserve Kalaupapa as it is,” said Fern Hamai, both of whose parents were exiled to Kalaupapa.

“We need to respect the power of the land…. Keep the mana strong,” urged Molokai resident Henry Tancayo.

Tamura explains there are five main points to be highlighted in the planning of Kalaupapa’s future. The first is resources, and number one in this category are the patients. Others include archeological and natural resources of the peninsula.

The second point is development. For Kalaupapa, explains Tamura, “development” will appear more in the form of adapting the use of already-existing resources rather than the development of new facilities or attractions.

Third, visitors must be considered. Some questions that await answer include whether or not the existing cap of 100 people per day remain, and who will run services like concessions once patients are no longer present in Kalaupapa.

Expanding the Park
The physical boundaries of the National Park are another consideration for the future of the peninsula. The National Park Service currently owns only 23 acres of the 12,000 acre property. Much of the remaining acreage is leased in a 50-year agreement with Department of Hawaiian Homelands that expires in 2041, says Prokop.

Back in 1998, Prokop explains, congresswoman Patsy Mink called for a feasibility study to be completed for the inclusion of the North Shore boundary of the National Park in Kalaupapa. The inclusion met with public opposition at the time, says Prokop. But, he adds, current public interest in a boundary increase of the National Park along the North Shore will be gauged in future meetings.

The operations of the Kalaupapa National Park is the fifth point to be determined in the General Management Plan. The cost of Park operations after patients are no longer present and what type of staff will be required on the peninsula, along with many other factors, await determination in the coming years.

Molokai’s DeGray Vanderbuilt wants to see that the patient story is told accurately. “They’re heroes,” he says.

Public scoping meetings will begin in April. Keep an eye on the Dispatch Calendar for updates.

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