Surfers protest owner’s right to close access to cherished beach on their private pathway
Video by David Corrigan
An apparent call to arms over what the news has called a “misunderstanding” led to a roadside protest on Friday, as surfers and others who use the privately owned path to the popular Papaikou beach spot – known as “The Mill” – lashed out over the owner’s right to close the walkway.
State law allows anyone to use any beach, but access is sometimes a different issue. In the case of the Mill, most users take advantage of an open manhole in a fence that leads to a path towards the relatively secluded shoreline. The path is part of the property of Charlene Prickett and her husband, James Waugh, who purchased the property in 1995. Before they owned it, it was part of the C. Brewer plantation lands, which have blurred the lines of public and private through years along the Hamakua Coast.
The gate is closed at 6:30 pm everyday, and is even closed on certain holidays. A list of signs and rules are posted – like No Dogs Allowed – for those who choose to use the pathway.
On Friday, the protesters held signs and spray painted surfboards, angry that the owners have dominion over the only access to the Mill available to the public (besides by sea) and argued that the pathway should be made into an easement for them to use.
Reports that some surfers have been arrested recently for jumping the fence have fueled the fire.
Prickett and Waugh also own the narrow Mill Road that leads from Pinky’s down to the dead end where the path to the beach begins, and have complained of illegal parking along the roadway.
Officials with the County of Hawaii hope a possible community meeting to be held in the future will help settle the situation.
In this video, Hilo surfer Demian Barrios explains why he and his friends are protesting the limited access, while attorney and DJ Damir Kouliev represents the “other side of the fence”, explaining that the management of the fence is entirely up to its owners. Kouliev and the owner of the controversial pathway both told Big Island Video News that Kouliev has not officially been retained by the owners to represent their side of the issue. Kouliev also said that he was trying to gather interested individuals to clean the beach in an attempt to put a positive spin on the contentious scenario. He said anyone interested in helping can contact him through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Up on the highway, sign wavers were promoting another online resource … a petition for public beach access at Papaikou at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/public-beach-access-to-papaikou-mill.html