Thursday, March 20, 2008

Kauai opposition to ferry still strong

The Honolulu Advertiser    Thursday, March 20, 2008

Kauai opposition to ferry still strong

By Diana Leone,   Advertiser Kaua'i Bureau

LIHU'E - About 120 Kaua'i residents met with
state Department of Transportation officials
yesterday and most opposed the return of the
Hawaii Superferry to the Garden Isle.

The Superferry began service between O'ahu and
Kaua'i in August but was soon turned back by
protesters on surfboards and in kayaks who
blocked the entrance to Nawiliwili Harbor.

More than six months later, opposition remains
strong here, at least from those who attended two
meetings yesterday at Kaua'i Community College.

The speakers were concerned about the safety of
whales and other marine life, the transport of
invasive species from island to island, traffic
and crime.

"I can guarantee you if the ferry comes back to
Kaua'i it will never get to its dock in
Nawiliwili Harbor," said Rich Hoeppner, chairman
of People for the Preservation of Kaua'i, a group
opposed to the ferry.

Although speakers were passionate in their
comments to Mike Formby, deputy DOT director for
harbors, and other state officials, they didn't
have much positive to say.

If there were Superferry supporters among the 40
or so people in the first meeting, they didn't
testify. A night meeting with about 80 people
attending also drew mostly negative comments.

Superferry operations between O'ahu and Maui were
halted last year after the state Supreme Court
ruled that the state had to conduct an
environmental assessment of the ferry's impact
before it could sail. The Legislature later met
in a special session and passed a law that
allowed the Superferry to operate while the
environmental study is conducted.

The company's 350-foot, high-speed catamaran
operated for several weeks in December and
January but was put in drydock for maintenance
and repairs on Feb. 13 and is expected to return
to service April 23.

The two meetings yesterday were intended to give
Kaua'i residents an opportunity to ask questions
about the environmental assessment the state is
conducting with the help of consultant Belt

At one meeting, Sandra Herndon said she was among
Kaua'i residents who petitioned Gov. Linda Lingle
for an environmental study regarding the
Superferry two years ago.

"What I'd like to ask now, if it is possible for
Belt Collins to deliver an independent study,"
Herndon said, adding that the company seemed to
be "intertwined with the Superferry corporation."

The economic model that assumes Hawai'i will need
more large harbor space "to continue to import
all its food and goods" will crumble under the
rising price of oil, said architect and planner
Juan Wilson, representing the organization Island

The state needs improvements in small harbors for
fishermen and small boats, "not a
40,000-horsepower, 40 mph football field," Wilson

Superferry President and CEO John Garibaldi, who
was not at the meeting, said yesterday in a phone
interview that repairs of the Alakai are going
well and he remains "cautiously optimistic" that
the vessel will resume service to Maui on April
23 as planned. He declined to say how much the
repairs cost but said much of the cost has been
borne by the ship's maker.

Garibaldi said although the company hopes
eventually to resume service to Kaua'i, it won't
even broach that subject for months at soonest.
He said the company is focused on resuming
service to Maui.

State and Belt Collins officials didn't respond
to speaker comments at the meeting, which is part
of a series being held on every island this month.

They said they will use ideas gathered from the
testimony in focusing on the environmental study,
Formby said. The draft environmental study is
expected in October, which will be followed by a
formal 45-day comment period and a final document
in spring 2009, he said.

Reach Diana Leone at

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin    Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ferry furor flares

By Tom Finnegan

PUHI, Kauai » Kauai opponents will not be
welcoming the Hawaii Superferry any time soon.

Yesterday about 150 people came to Kauai
Community College for two public meetings held as
part of the environmental impact study being done
by contractor Belt Collins. Every speaker said
the Superferry's ship, Alakai, should not return
until the study is finished.

And a vast number of speakers, both in the
afternoon and evening sessions, said that no
matter what Belt Collins issues as part of its
report, the company and the state's credibility
will always be questioned, and the ship will not
be welcome.

"This is a sham," said Rich Hoeppner. "I
guarantee you if the ferry comes to Kauai, that
ferry will never get back to its dock at

Hoeppner, part of the Thousand Friends of Kauai
group that sued the Superferry and the state over
the environmental study process, said that
hundreds have told him they will swim out to
block the ship's return, despite repeated threats
from the U.S. Coast Guard and the state.

"That's not a threat," he said between the meetings. "That's a guarantee."

Other speakers directly addressed the process.

Anne Ponohu said that if Belt Collins found the
Superferry would pose no significant impact to
the state, a federal lawsuit would be coming.

"We will be watching you closely," she added.
"The impacts on Kauai are obvious and well

Many others addressed concerns that state and
county taxpayers will wind up picking up the tab
for trash cleanup, new bathrooms, security,
invasive species prevention, traffic mitigation
and other issues.

Local attorney Daniel Hempey, who represents the
Thousand Friends of Kauai, worried that the ship
could bring infectious diseases and put strains
on Kauai's hospitals because of all the
seasickness passengers have previously
experienced. And, who, Hempey asked, will keep
passengers from getting drunk aboard the ship and
driving around Kauai?

Ken Taylor asked why the study presents only two
possible actions: not allowing harbor
improvements, and letting the Superferry use them.

Other alternatives should be proposed, including
whether another type of vessel should be used, or
whether different ports should be fitted to
accommodate the Alakai.

Those questions are the point of the meetings,
said Dennis Chun, a member of the Inter-island
Ferry Oversight Task Force.

"This is a time where you can bring your
concerns, and that is the contractor's job,"
added Chun, a University of Hawaii professor and
one of the many residents who paddled out on a
surfboard to block the Superferry in August.

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