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Urge Maui Parks Director to allow the 2018 Earth Day Festival to return to Keopuolani Park

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We ask the Maui Parks Director that the 2018 Maui Earth Day Festival be returned to its historical venue at the Keopuolani Park Amphitheater.

The Maui Parks Director, Ka‘ala Buenconsejo, denied a Special Event Permit for the 20th annual 2017 Maui Earth Day Festival at the Keopuolani Park Amphitheater. The 2017 Earth Day Festival was forced to move to a new private venue at the VFW in Kihei for Sunday, April 30th, 2017. The reasons stated by the Parks Director in the Letter of Denial clearly do not rise to the level of sufficient cause of a park permit denial (see the rebuttal at the end of this letter). 

The Maui Earth Day Festival has a long history of being a fun and peaceful family event that has run without a single significant negative incident for 19 years. It has been a grand showcase of community cooperation and collaboration.  There have been no formal or informal complaints lodged against Earth Day in all these years.  We have always worked closely with the Parks Special Events Coordinators and have met every requirement and request.  So this denial leaves us completely baffled. Could it be that this denial comes from a political motivation?  Could this be a case of discrimination against environmentalists and grass roots activists?  Everyone should be treated fairly and equally under the law. 

Keopuolani Park is a perfect venue for the event with its natural beauty, many trees that provide shade and a hillside creating a natural amphitheater for people to sit overlooking the stage. There is ample public parking across the street at the War Memorial Stadium. The event serves an important purpose for people to network and environmental groups to inform and educate about their projects to protect and improve life on Maui for generations to come.

Here is our rebuttal to the false allegations of wrong doings from the “Letter of Denial”:

1) Parks:  “Your proposed activity, with an anticipated attendance of 800 participants, has grown to exceed safe usage of that facility.”

Earth Day:  The number of participants of the Earth Day event has remained steady since Earth Day was moved to Keopuolani Park Amphitheater 7 years ago.  Our activities are well within the park’s capacity with no visible residual effects to the park grounds.

2) Parks:  “Failure to dispose of trash generated from the event within the time allotted by the issued permit.”

Earth Day:  This occurred only once 2 years ago, when a heavy rain on Sunday night filled the trashcans with water.  On the Monday clean up day, the volunteer vehicles could not move heavy wet garbage and recycling, and the dump closed at 3pm.  We hired a truck and moved it Tuesday morning, 12 hours late for our permit.  This is a case of "extenuating circumstances."

3) Parks:  “Non-compliance of permitted event hours.”

Earth Day:  The published park facility hours are from 7am to 10pm.  We shut down main stage at dusk.  We have sometimes allowed acoustic music to continue in the dome stage after dark that has never caused a noise complaint that we are aware of.  There is no mention of “permitted event hours” in our permit.

4) Parks:  “Allowing of unsafe vehicle access in prohibited areas during the event.”

Earth Day:  Vehicles have always been out of the event area before opening ceremonies start at 10 am.  Vehicles have never been allowed into the event area until after the main stage has been shut down and most of the participants have dispersed.  The lower entrance (jogging trail) is used for handicap access as well as musician and vendor drop offs, as is done for every other public event held at this amphitheater.  Sometimes people have parked along the jogging trail even though we post signs saying “No Parking Here”.  This has never created an unsafe situation.

5) Parks:  “Unauthorized addition of activities not approved by the issuing permit, such as pony rides.”

Earth Day:  We have had pony rides on 3 different years under the full observation of parks officials and this is the first time anyone has called this use a problem.  We see nothing in the permits or parks publications calling this use unauthorized.  Our pony ride vendors all carry their own liability insurance.  As a note, there were pony rides at this year’s County sponsored Ag Festival, and that did not seem to be a problem either.

6) Parks:  “Applicant has used a park in a manner inconsistent with any of the information provided in the application or permit.”

Earth Day:  We have clearly and consistently outlined our park use in the annual application process.

7) Parks:  “Failed to satisfactorily clean or restore any park or recreational facility.”

Earth Day:  In the spirit of environmentalism, we have consistently restored the park to a cleaner situation than when we found it.  There has never been any lingering impact to the park with the exception of one sprinkler head being damaged one year, which our park deposit was used to pay for its repair.

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