Seeing A Bright Future For Coco Palms

Pat Griffin is a lifetime member of the Kaua‘i Historical Society

While keeping one eye on the past, Kaua’i historian Pat Griffin is also looking to improve things on the

Mention Coco Palms Resort, or the Opaekaa bridge, and Pat Griffin’s eyes light up.

“We are only who we are today because of where we’ve been,” says the Kaua’i historian. “It’s worth thinking about what structures, sites and locations are important to carry into the future.”

Devoting much of her time to voluntarily preserving the past, Griffin relates history to the many layers of coral – the very top layer wouldn’t exist without the many hundreds below it.

Her passion for the past is evident in her 33-year dedication to the Kaua’i Historical Society.

“I’m a lifetime member of the society,” she says.

More recently, Griffin has involved herself with organizations such as Friends of Coco Palms, which “seeks to pave the way for a Coco Palms future that is culturally based, historically respectful, publicly accessible and cherished by Kauaians for generations to come,” according to its website.

“That’s an area historic to many,” she says, noting that she would really “like to see a rigorous community discussion” geared toward what could be accomplished with the grounds.

After being destroyed by Hurricane Iniki in 1992, the dilapidated remains of the resort have yet to see the likes of a bulldozer. And just last year, the Kaua’i County Planning Commission approved to extend the current owner’s deadline for reconstruction to 2013.

“It’s painful to see now,” she says regarding the resort. “It’s shocking to think there hasn’t been any cleanup or care in 18 years.”

But bringing slices of history back to decent life isn’t Griffin’s only mission on Kaua’i. She also is active in organizations such as Lihue Business Association. Making plans for a more sustainable town is just one of the many goals the nonprofit is committed to.

“We want to co-create a prosperous future,” says Griffin, who serves as LBA president, likening the process to “peeling the layers of an onion to look at all of the components of a complex, vibrant community.”

And as if she weren’t busy enough, Griffin also takes part in the steering committee for the American Institute of Architects’ Sustainable Design Assessment Team project, which “effectively paved the way for the preparations of the upcoming Lihue District Development Plan Update now at its inception,” she says.

“It’s a perfect time to move forward on a district plan, since the Lihue Town Core Urban Design Plan (which she serves as a member of the Citizens Advisory Council) has been passed by the county council.”

The proposed plan includes creating a more accessible and attractive town.

There is no doubt sustainability is in the forefront of her mind as Griffin discusses how she envisions Lihue to eventually have a “rich, constructive plan … It’s a bigger picture kind of issue.”

LBA will be instrumental in the process, along with its sub-committee, Lihue Tomorrow.

“When you’re growing outward, it’s easy to forget about your town core,” says Griffin.

Though she devotes much of her time to the community, there is “always more to do,” says Griffin. “This community has given me and my family so much, we owe it to be participatory and give back when we can. There are so many different ways to contribute. Each of us will hopefully find a way to give that speaks of our own talents.”

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