North Kohala community informed about National Scenic Byway

Daryl Diaz, Reporter

North Kohala residents say they were not informed about the plans to make Akoni Pule Highway a National Scenic Byway. It is said that making Akoni Pule Highway a National Scenic Byway will open doors to federal grants that will protect cultural resources while encouraging tourism and opportunities for commerce. According to West Hawaii News, the grants will help pay for parking lots, turnarounds, hiking paths, restrooms and signs. These are part of the suggested changes.

At 4pm on October 23, 2011, a community meeting was held at Kamehameha Park Hisaoka Gym to help the community understand the facts and issues. A video was showed providing hidden facts that only about 10 community members were informed and invited to secret meetings about plans for a National Scenic Byway. Other residents felt they have the right to know and voice their opinions on what’s going on.
Presentation also informed that majority of supporters of the National Scenic Byway are not apart of North Kohala Community. Hidden partners who supports the byway like Lyon Associates from Oahu. Federal Grants have plans to purchase the old library, access for control, like hunting, fishing, exploring.  Road repairs will not be available due to the funds going to tourism. Scenic Byway will be in charge of many things.Other communities in the U.S disagree with the scenic byway. It now seen as de-designated and a government intrusion. Main issue is that they will have power and control.

Some residents of North Kohala’s community say Kohala is too special to be controlled by a few. They say the byway will effect the culture and have Kohala no longer be a historic area if called scenic. It will not be rural and will not be the same. Anonymous says “Kohala is a cherished land. Keep Kohala, Kohala.”