By TOM CALLIS
Tribune-Herald staff writer
The Papaikou Mill beach trail may not become public just yet.
Acquiring an easement for the path and the road to it through eminent domain, as authorized by the Hawaii County Council on Nov. 21, would require both a property appraisal and legal action.
The funding to accomplish that was not identified, and Mayor Billy Kenoi said he doesn’t have the funds available to begin the process.
“It has to be in the budget,” he said. “It’s not in the budget.”
Kenoi put the responsibility of identifying a funding source on the council, and suggested the matter may have to be resolved through the next budgeting process.
“Without a funding source you can’t do the appraisal, you can’t proceed with condemnation,” he said.
Council Chairman J Yoshimoto said he’s open to allocating funds during this fiscal year, but added it may make sense to wait until the next budget.
Kenoi will submit his proposed budget to the council Feb. 28, he said. The budget would take effect July 1.
“We can do it but it’s going to be tight,” Yoshimoto said.
Kenoi said he will work with the council to identify funds to acquire the trail and road through the budgeting process if an allocation is not made sooner.
“We’re certainly going to work with everybody,” he said, “to find a mutual … resolution.
“That certainly includes finding potential sources of funding.”
Trail acquisition will be a new issue for most of the council.
A new council was inaugurated on Monday, and only three of the last nine members remain.
Dominic Yagong, who introduced the resolution authorizing condemnation, said the council could redirect funds, but he didn’t object with it waiting until the next fiscal year.
“Either way is fine,” said Yagong, who stepped down as District 1 representative and council chairman this week.
“I certainly don’t have a problem with the mayor putting it in the budget for 2013.”
He said he wasn’t too concerned with passing the resolution without identifying funding since the budgeting process for the next fiscal year was about to begin.
“We knew that if the eminent domain were to pass … the next budget is right around the corner,” Yagong said.
Valerie Poindexter, the current representative of District 1, which includes Papaikou, said she supports public access to the beach, and wants it to “be in sync” with the community development plan for the area.
Poindexter said she is talking with Papaikou residents about the issue but called it “premature” to commit to funding.
“We’re certainly taking a look at it,” she said. “The budget picture is far from clear at this point.”
Jim Waugh and Charlene Prickett, the owners of the trail, couldn’t be reached for comment.
They said they built the path after buying the land in 1995 and have allowed access since for about 12 hours a day.
Some users objected to the time restrictions and other rules enforced by the couple, leading to the push for a public easement.
Last month, Prickett and Waugh said a “local management group” for the trail was forming.
Special arrangements were also being made to allow fishermen to use the beach after the dark, they said.
They had declined to sell the trail voluntarily to the county.
Email Tom Callis at email@example.com.