Owners speak out on eve of Papaikou access hearing

Video by David Corrigan | Voice of Stephanie Salazar

HILO, Hawaii: The county council’s Finance Committee took up a resolution seizing the Papaikou Mill Road and beach access by eminent domain during its meeting in Hilo on Tuesday.

County Council Chair Dominic Yagong introduced the measure, which drew mixed public testimony.

The issue has been festering for years. Many in the community say this path – which has been improved and fenced off by its owners, with access granted during certain hours – has been the traditional access to the popular Papaikou Mill for generations.

But tensions between the owners and the community have risen as access has been restricted.

Emotions at a community meeting held in Papaikou on the subject ran high a few weeks ago.

No decision was made on Tuesday, though. Yagong instead asked for a public hearing on the matter.

In the audience on Tuesday, owner Charlene Prickett and James Waugh…

For the first time since we filmed this roadside protest over the restricted access in 2010, we spoke to the owner about the situation, in the hall outside the council chamber.

Waugh recounted hearing about the resolution for the first time, and detailed his right to restrict access, which he says is determined by state law.

It has not been an easy time for the Waugh family living on the contentious land.

The public hearing will be held on October 10th at the Papaikou Gym.

Waugh says he will be proposing an alternative to Yagong’s eminent domain measure at the start of the event.

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