East Hawaii News — Huhu Regarding Papaikou Mill Beach Access


The following story appears in today's edition of Big Island Weekly. Tiffany Edwards Hunt photos except noted. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.


(Editor’s Note:  Accompanying this story by Tiffany Edwards Hunt that appears in today’s edition of the Big Island Weekly are two others, including information about public access and additional photos taken at the Friday, May 14, 2010 protest. Previous references to the Papaikou Mill beach access controversy are here and here.)

Charlene Prickett says her friends are going to make her a T-shirt that on the front reads “FHB — F-g haole bitch, the lady at the end of the street,” and on the back, “My friends call me Charlene.”
Prickett is trying to use humor to cope with the fact that she is at the center of growing controversy over access to the beach fronting the now-defunct Onomea mill — commonly referred to as the old Papaikou Mill.  “I’ve been called f-g haole so many times, it’s hard to remember the one time.”
Prickett and her architect husband Jim Waugh for 17 years have owned the land that includes the old Onomea Mill in Papaikou.

Image courtesy of Charlene Prickett

Throughout their ownership, the couple has allowed beachgoers to traverse their property and, in 2002, created the switchback trail that is used today.  Prickett explained that when the couple bought their property nearly two decades ago, there was no trail.  Beachgoers went through a hole in the fence bordering their property and made their way through the decrepit mill, climbing down to the beach on a rickety ladder. Waugh, having taken his family down to the beach through this makeshift and sketchy route, vowed to improve the access.
But in the eight years since the trail’s completion, Prickett and Waugh have felt more resentment and hostility than they have gratitude and appreciation.  “There’s this belief that it’s not our land, it’s not our trail, it’s not our right,” said Prickett.
She and her husband have been called names and been threatened, had their gate bashed, trees cut, and vegetation along the trail hacked.  The couple has also been burglarized, and the small parking area at the entrance of the couple’s property was so notorious for vehicle break-ins that a community policing officer and deputy prosecutor recommended the couple do away with parking there altogether.  
Today boulders prevent any parking for the beach whatsoever.  The beat-up gate fronting the property belonging to Prickett and Waugh is plastered with signage indicating, “No dogs,” “no bicycles,” and other expectations for traversing their property.   Read more

East Hawaii News — Papaikou Mill Protest, A Photo Story


Sean Cambe and keiki protest access issues with the old Onomea Mill beach in Papikou Friday, May 14, 2010. (Photos by Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.)

Accompanied are photos of a recent protest in Papaikou regarding the old Onomea Mill beach in Papaikou.  A story appears in today’s edition of the Big Island Weekly.  

Sean Cambe (foreground with keiki), John Shimasaki, and Conrad Estillore protest.

There is an ensuing struggle between old mill beachgoers and the property owner that accommodates access to the beach with a maintained and manicured trail.  County prosecutors and police and community members are trying to mitigate the disagreements between the public and landowners Charlene Prickett and Jim Waugh, who improved access to the black sand beach with a bonafide trail in 2002.  Traditionally, the public made their way through a decrepit mill.  Prickett says that 95 percent of her interactions with the public that regularly access the beach is positive, but the behavior of another 5 percent has gotten progressively worse.  She has periodically closed down access to the beach for trail maintenance, but also to send a message that their trail is a privilege and not a right.  Meanwhile, the beach-going public has grown weary of what they see as progressively more closures and rules for access — like no strollers or coolers, and no bicycles or skateboards with little to no parking near the trail as-is.  

John Shimasaki

Community members say, ‘what about infants and toddlers and strollers, and the need for water after surfing or swimming?’  Some community members want total freedom, the ability to come and go to the beach and to “camp” and “party” there.  But others are more realistic and say they would agree to a maintenance closure schedule in which everyone is aware of and agrees to ahead of time.

Some members of the community want to to work with Prickett and Waugh on the trail maintenance and even to assist in planting. A community garden was suggested. The bottom line for most of the people who showed up at a picket along the highway in Papaikou, Friday, May 14, 2010 is that the public needs access to the old mill beach and conflicts with the landowner have got to stop.  

Conrad Estillore


"I've lived here my whole life," said Robert Kamakahi, 28. "She's been changing the rules everytime. I can't take my dog to the beach. We used to be able to camp down there, party down there."

Marco Barrios

Letters — Papaikou Mill Public Access Remains, Despite The Rumors

(Editor’s Note:  Following is an email exchange between Big Island Chronicle and Charlene Prickett regarding the claim that she and her husband Jim Waugh are denying access across their property to the beach fronting the old Papaikou Mill.)

From the Big Island Chronicle: Is it true that you are denying the public access to the beach?

From Charlene Prickett: Please, call me Charlene.
No, it is not true.

From the Big Island Chronicle: Okay. Why is this to the point where a protest is planned?

From Charlene Prickett: Beats me, Tiffany.  I was quite surprised to hear it from a young high school friend of mine who phoned Monday night.  You might put that question to those who are posting the notices.