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Rebuilding the Coco Palms

In Our View for Wednesday - October 13, 2004
From The Garden Island

The Native Hawaiian tradition of ho'oponopono, or problem-solving, appears to be at play concerning the use of nearly 20 acres of land behind the Coco Palms Resort in Wailua.

While some Native Hawaiians had prepared to file for intervenor status in the matter of permits required for the rebuilding of the Coco Palms, it seems that, through calm, rational negotiating, the need for that status might not be necessary.

Developer Richard Weiser, a Princeville resident and co-managing member with Walter Petrie of the limited-liability company seeking to buy the land under the Coco Palms and rebuild the hotel, has met with Avery Youn, a Native Hawaiian and former county planning director.

The two have tentatively agreed on a plan to allow Native Hawaiians to use around 17 acres behind the hotel, including the area of the famed coconut grove, for cultural practices.

Native Hawaiians have used the area for centuries, and it is believed to be the home of Queen Deborah Kapule, the island's last reigning queen.

The area has significant cultural and spiritual significance.

While the Kaua'i Planning Commission continues to hear public testimony on the matter of the permits necessary to rebuild the landmark property, the activity between Weiser and Youn is a good thing, and likely also is a sign of a developer willing to work with the community on win-win outcomes for touchy issues.

Getting back for a moment to the concept of ho'oponopono, there have been historical discussions about problem-solving sessions where people on opposite ends of disputes have been locked behind closed doors for several hours or days until reaching a mutually agreeable resolution.

"Ho'oponopono," according to the "New Pocket Hawaiian Dictionary" of Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert, means "to correct, revise, edit, put to right; mental cleansing, as by family discussion."

Getting back to the Coco Palms, one of the last remaining hotels not yet rebuilt after Hurricane 'Iniki came calling in 1992, there are concerns, including traffic, and the eyesore the hotel remains in its shuttered condition.

Until more is known about the company's plans for the Coco Palms, the jury is still out on our support for this project.

However, seeing these two sides working together takes one of the obstacles for supporting this development out of the equation.

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