Baldwin Beach Park Master Plan
Baldwin Beach Park Master Plan
Baldwin Beach Park is one of the largest beach parks (55.87 ac.) in the county’s system of parks and recreational facilities and is one of three major parks along Maui’s north shore that attract high levels of use. While the park has been a favorite beach for residents for decades, there are a number of issues to be addressed to ensure it continues to meet both current and future needs. In addition, the County’s Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) recently acquired about 25 acres, which more than doubled the size of the park.
The Baldwin Beach Park Master Plan project was initiated to establish a long-term vision for the park. Funding for this phase of planning ($200,000) was provided by the County Council in 2017. These funds were used to retain the consultant team, which prepared an initial master plan concept.
Preparing the Master Plan
The master plan is being prepared with the assistance of a consultant team headed by DTL, LLC and includes sub-consultants PBR Hawaii (landscape architects), Sea Engineering, ʻĀina Archaeology, and J. Uno & Associates. A twelve-member advisory committee, made up of local residents who each bring their own perspective and expertise, is also assisting in the development of the Master Plan. The committee includes Cindy Nagata, Jeff Chong, Alan Nago, Bruce U’u, Kaleo Amadeo, Ben Wallin, Susun White, Noelani Sugata, Michele Nishiki, Keola Brown, Pulama Collier, and Howard Rodrigues. The committee met three times and three open houses were held in 2019, in March, May, and August.
Purpose of the Master Plan
The Baldwin Beach Park Master Plan is an initial concept that describes ideas to address specific goals, issues, and conditions that have been expressed. It presents a broad vision for the future. It is not a plan for construction but rather a concept that guides the design of specific improvements. As the community’s concerns, needs and desires change, the master plan should be revisited to reflect those shifts.
The current master plan concept provides a starting point for additional discussion and refinement. One of the next steps will be to conduct additional technical studies to review and refine the ideas proposed in the initial concept. Some of these additional studies will focus on civil engineering, traffic engineering and management, and a more detailed cultural study.
Key Ideas in the Master Plan
The current concept for the master plan incorporates ideas generated by the open houses, the advisory committee, DPR staff, and the consultant team. The plan is a mix of short-term ideas to improve the park and long-term ideas that need further study.
One of the fundamental principles of the initial master plan concept is to improve the park to meet the needs and preferences of county residents while meeting environmental and planning restrictions. The idea for a large pavilion, for example, is based on something that local families often do – hold parties and celebrations at the beach. The plan locates the new pavilion behind the shoreline setback to protect it from severe fluctuations in beach sand and flood risk caused by sea level rise. Small pavilions are scattered throughout the park and include picnic tables and barbeque grills. Vehicular drop-offs are located just outside of the shoreline setback to provide closer access for beach activities.
A range of parking strategies is proposed in the master plan to meet different needs. Parking lots are located close to the highway to provide large open spaces within the interior of the park. Reserved stalls for cultural practitioners and those requiring ADA access are located at the vehicular drop-offs.
Also, the parking areas along the internal road provide closer access to the beach for people who have coolers, umbrellas, and other supplies for a day at the beach. Parking and drop-offs are for park users only, because commercial activities are not allowed by the county code (Chapter 13.04A.290) at Baldwin Beach Park. Consequently, tour buses will not be permitted in the park.
Another idea that reflects a popular activity among residents is the permitted campground because there are very few opportunities for this on Maui. It does, however, require intensive management to address security and safety concerns. Because the Department of Parks and Recreation does not currently have the resources to manage this activity now, the campground idea is likely a long-term proposal.
Walking paths are another important feature of the concept. These provide connectivity within the park, promotes daily use of the park, and helps to direct pedestrian traffic, especially in dune restoration areas. As shown in the concept sketch, the paths and large open spaces are lined with trees to offer shade and places to sit.
The open lawn areas are flexible open spaces to accommodate activities such as informal pick-up games, picnics, and gatherings. The open lawn areas and high branched shade trees have open views throughout the park to create safe and peaceful places for individuals and families. The open space is also a flood resiliency strategy because the entire site is in a flood zone.
The master plan concept now being prepared provides a starting point for additional discussion and refinement. One of the next steps will be to conduct additional technical studies to review and refine the ideas proposed in the initial concept. Some of the additional studies will focus on civil engineering, traffic engineering and management, and a more detailed cultural study.
Other areas of focus could be identified once the initial concept is completed. In addition, an Environmental Assessment and EIS will also have to be prepared along with a Shoreline Management Area application.
Completing these studies will be a part of refining the master plan concept. Funding for Phase I improvements would be requested only after all of these studies, applications, and other requirements are secured. As a result, it could realistically be ten years before any infrastructure improvements are started.
In the interim, there are projects (to deal with dune restoration and flooding) that could be initiated. And of course, the maintenance of existing facilities such as the basketball courts, parking areas, and other immediate problems would be addressed.