One of the more enjoyable activities for a city planner is assisting with place making. I participated in this project for the County of Kauai as part of my assignments with SSFM International, the Hawaii-based engineering and planning firm I have worked for since 2009.
I was the project manager for two projects with the Kauai Planning Department under the able leadership of Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Planning Director Mike Dahilig, Deputy Kaaina Hull, and the Long Range Planning Division under Marie Williams. Together with the community, we completed the Lihue Town Plan and later an update of the Kauai General Plan. I was pleased and honored that both efforts won awards; the General Plan update won the American Planning Association national top project award in 2019.
The Lihue Town Plan looked towards creating a downtown that was comfortable for walking and bicycling, a central transit mall on Eiwa Street, as well as landscaping that emphasized indigenous plants that would beautify the area and tolerate various weather and water conditions.
Roundabouts have become a desirable method of managing traffic coming from multiple directions. It is preferable to a traffic signal because movement is continuous, conflicts are reduced which makes it safer, and eliminates head-on collisions. Protected refuges for pedestrians (and bicyclists) make crossings more comfortable and protected.
The roundabout at Umi and Hardy was installed in 2015 and is adjacent to the State Office building and Wilcox Elementary School It is one of the first for the island and it went a long way towards reducing skepticism or opposition towards future roundabouts. Since that time, the State of Hawaii and the County of Kauai have undertaken other roundabouts in Poipu, Kapaa Stream Bridge (Kealia), Koloa & Maluhia Road at Ala Kalanikaumaka, at Nuhou and Kaneka Road near the Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School near a new Safeway store.
At the center of the Hardy/Umi Roundabout are artifacts from the Lihue Plantation Mill, including sugar cane cutters, rollers, and crushers and sugar cane plants. This is a purposeful nod to the community’s history, having developed around the sugar industry until closing of the Lihue Mill in 2000. Therefore, I was honored to be asked by the County Parks Department to devise an appropriate signage/marker to tell parts of that history.
The sign has seven sections on a single panel:
The upper left explains the carding drum used for cleaning, Mill rollers, and gears to turn the crushers and make sugar juice.
The upper right is a photo of Lihue Mill taken in 1941 showing the many buildings, sheds and smoke stack that could be seen for miles. When the mill closed in 2000. its internal workings were auctioned off, structures demolished and sold, and the smokestack was toppled in 2013.
The lower left is an aerial of Lihue town and Hardy Street which arcs around the Civic Center. The town layout was based on a layout prepared by John Graham which realigned development placing major buildings such as the State Office Building, War Memorial Convention Hall, Regional Library and the Episcopal church, each designed by a prominent architect of the day. Residential development such as the Molokoa Subdivision provided housing for sugar workers and nearby merchants.
The lower middle above the picture of Kilipaki Camp is a list of the thirteen sugar companies that operated on Kauai over 150 years. Lihue Plantation (1849-2000) was one of the oldest and largest and they regularly introduced new forms of production, irrigation, milling, and transport (such as railroads).
The lower right shows a photo of Kilipaki Camp around 1900 with the mill and Lihue town in the background.
The lower far right lists the waves of immigration starting with Chinese in 1852, including Japanese, Portuguese, German/Norwegians, Puerto Ricans, Koreans, Filipinos and finally Spaniards in 1907.
Individual memorials honoring these ethnic groups can be found around the island, including the special bronze tribute to all immigrant groups (shown above) found at the location of the Koloa Old Sugar Mill (a registered National Historic Landmark). The multi-figure sculpture created by artist Jan Fisher depicts the blending of seven immigrant cultures that came to work on the plantations. The statue was erected in 1985 on the 150th anniversary of the Hawaiian Sugar Industry and Koloa Plantation.