Groups: Former Coco Palms Hotel property on Kauai should be restored, not redeveloped

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Published: Jul. 10, 2021 at 5:35 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 10, 2021 at 5:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - I Ola Wailuanui, a community organization led by Kauai residents, started a petition with hopes of acquiring property in which the former Coco Palms Hotel stands on.

The organization wants to see the land be used for Native Hawaiian education and cultural practices rather than another lodging option.

“And so I’m very confident that, you know, should a hotel developer buy this property and attempt to build a hotel that they will fail,” said Fern Holland, member of I Ola Wailuanui.

Coco Palms Hotel, the iconic resort featured in the film “Blue Hawaii,” sits on the land known as Wailuanui. The parcels include a historic coconut grove, an ancient Hawaiian fishpond and burial grounds.

“This place has always had special significance as a place where my kupuna were from, but also where I was raised,” said assistant professor of Hawaiian Students at Kauai Community College, Pua Rossi-Fukino.

These are significant sites petitioners want to restore and protect.

“It was always a very important religious social political center for Kauai and like I said, it’s not just famous on Kauai, but Wailua is known throughout the archipelago as being a very significant site for our culture for our people,” said Rossi-Fukino.

“But we’re really creating a vision that will hopefully be led by lineal descendants, in the sense of how we honor the ancient burial grounds on that property,” said Holland. “You know, the features that are really special to the people of Hawaii.”

Holland said their vision for Wailuanui includes a place for education and farm to table opportunities at the old hotel restaurant.

Both Rossi-Fukino and Holland said the land is no longer suitable for a new hotel or resort.

“We have a lot more cars on the road, we’re also dealing with climate change so the beach fronting the hotel is really no longer there it’s slowly disintegrating,” said Rossi-Fukino.

“We’re inundated by tourism with a lack of capacity to deal with it in both of our parks, our road infrastructure even our restaurants can cope, especially at the lower capacity that they’re functioning at,” added Holland, who said there’s more than enough lodging space on the Garden Isle.

So far, nearly 3,500 people have signed the petition. Their goal is to get 5,000 signatures.

“I hope in my lifetime, we see the property as a flourishing place of culture and enrichment and food production and wetlands that are restored with the Koloa ducks thriving,” said Holland.

The auction is set for July 26.

Hawaii News Now reached out to the owners of the property for comment on the petition and are waiting to hear back.

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