Sunday | December 10, 2017
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Your Views for June 4

It’s only Puna!

Congratulations to Councilwoman Jennifer Ruggles for pointing out the discrimination of the Puna District to the other members of the County Council.

While most of the council took the attitude many previous council members have had — “So what? It’s only Puna!” — those of us who live and do business in Kalapana would like to point out how just one of many small instances of discrimination affects not just those who live and work here, but visitors and their view of our island, all because of the lack of two porta-potties.

Kalapana, at the end of the road, is usually visited by at least a hundred visitors daily who come to see and walk over the previous flow that wiped out Kaimu, to see a new “black sand” beach forming and shop at the store for food and drinks. They visit Uncle Robert’s, meet Hawaiians and hear their history.

They get directions to the current flow or talk to tour guides about taking them on historical tours. They visit with residents and hear how the previously covered area is being resettled. They shop with arts and craft vendors parked on the side of the road and at the new glass and pottery art shop that recently opened.

Imagine their shock, after all of that, when we have to tell them, “We’re sorry! There are no public bathroom facilities available for your use. We are, though, trying to work with the county to get this remedied. In the meantime, here are directions to the service provided by the county 4 or 5 miles from here.”

What we don’t say is that two porta-potties were previously supplied by the county for the tourists’ convenience but were removed shortly after the last election. We also don’t say that several discussions with the Department of Parks and Recreation and the mayor’s office regarding this issue have been met with the explanation by Parks and Rec that the rent paid for the porta-potties was “too expensive to be handled in our budget” and a very emphatic “and we have no intention of replacing them either, especially as the county already supplies one a little over 4 miles away from there.”

All this given with a, “Don’t bother to call again” tone of voice.

Would this happen in some other Big Island district?

Having lived on this island for more than 20 years, I have never seen another high-volume tourist area where the sanitary needs are so neglected. In the meantime, even though the businesses and residents will continue trying to solve the problem, tourists from all over the world, many of whom only have time to see this one small section of our island, are leaving with a very strange impression of the whole island.

But, after all, “it’s only Puna.”

Denyse Lynn Temple

Pahoa

 

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