Kokee Park (2006) SAVED

Photos: Courtesy of David Cornwell

UPDATE: 2012

Hui o Laka renovated the historic and formerly abandoned Civilian Conservation Corps Complex (CCC Complex), both buildings and grounds, into a fully functioning volunteer service facility, in keeping with the original use in 1938. Constructed in 1935, as part of President Roosevelt’s national program “to provide work and job training for young men in conserving and developing the nation’s natural resources,” the  CCC Complex site accommodated many groups and programs over the years. This renovation is critical to protect and preserve a  complex of buildings that once served a national purpose, and stands as a landmark for the commitment of generations of people who have volunteered and dedicated themselves to community service in order to nurture Kōke‘e’s native forest, and to educate visitor and kama‘āina alike.

Hui o Laka received a Preservation Honor Award at Historic Hawai‘i Foundation’s 2012 Preservation Honor Awards Ceremony for the restoration of the Civilian Conservation Corps Camp Complex.


According to Holly McEldowney of State Parks, auctions for leases on the last sixteen residences have been completed. Approval has been given for Mason Architects, Inc. to finish historic preservation design standards for the site.


Article Written By: Michael Keany, HONOLULU Magazine

What is it?
Ahh, Koke‘e, an idyllic 4,345 acres of mountainous Kaua‘i state park. It’s also home to 114 secluded recreational cabins—92 of them more than 50 years old—which have been caught in the middle of a preservation battle. The 20-year leases on the rustic cabins are set to expire at the end of this year, and the state plans to put them up for open auction, sparking heated protests from the current lessees, who want the option to extend their leases, or, failing that, be compensated for any additions and improvements they’ve made. (Under the current lease terms, all improvements revert to the state at the end of the leases.)

What threatens it?

It depends on who you ask. The Koke‘e Leaseholders Association contends that an open auction will jeopardize historic cabins by opening them up to newcomers who care little for Kokee’s unique heritage.“Our desire is for the state to see the light and negotiate directly with the people who are preserving their property, who have created this community,” says David Koch, who has been a cabin owner since the last auction in 1985. Peter Young, director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, points out that about 40 of the current leaseholders have applied for conservation-district use permits that would allow them to demolish or move their cabins. “It’s an interesting mindset, when we’ve heard hours of testimony on the importance of protecting and preserving the place, and at the same time, people are stepping forward with applications for permits to destroy the very thing they’ve been testifying in defense of,” Young says.

What can be done?
Everything is on hold right now, while a lawsuit brought by the Koke‘e Leaseholders Association over compensation plays out in court. Young says that, whatever happens, any new leases will include restrictions appropriate to the preservation of historic structures. A proposal is also in the works to designate Koke‘e as a historic district, which would give further legal protection to the cabins.

2016-11-17T11:41:41+00:00 March 3rd, 2014|Categories: MES Kauai|Tags: , |