Aloha West Molokai Resort Condominium Homeowners,

I’d like to update you on the projects that we’re undertaking to enhance our piece of paradise on the island of Moloka’i. But first, let me fill you in on our experience with the recent hurricanes. Iselle just glanced past our island with 55 mph winds and only about 45 minutes of heavy rain. It wasn’t even enough to have a significant impact on our watering schedule, which, I’m sure you know, requires us to water heavily during the summers in an effort to keep our courtyards healthy. Hurricane Julio took a turn to the north and missed us completely. The only damage we sustained was just some broken branches in the parking lots.

When we renewed our property insurance in the spring, our carrier required us to make everyone aware of the necessity of frequently checking the smoke detectors in each unit. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends:

  1. A working smoke alarm be installed on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas, and inside bedrooms
  2. Testing the smoke alarm at least once a month
  3. Replacing smoke alarm batteries at least annually

It seems that three or four times each month we hear a smoke alarm in some unit emitting a loud chirp… every 40 seconds because the battery is in the process of dying. It usually happens as the temperature drops in the evening, just before or just after our security officer has left for the night. Too, it’s difficult to locate where the failing detector might be because the sound echoes through the complex. So please be kind to your neighbors. Follow the recommendations and change your smoke alarm batteries annually. If you’re seldom on the island, please find a local person who can do this for you.

Now, to our projects:

As you may know, the hot water tanks that supply the cottages are electrically heated. However, the tanks that provide hot water to our condos in buildings 13 through 25 are heated with propane gas. Always expensive in the islands, gas has become increasingly costly over the past few months. For some time now, your board has been pursuing authorization to experiment with solar hot water heating to augment the propane system. We recently received approval to install the seven systems required, but the board wanted to be sure there would be cost savings, in addition to being “green” by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. So we installed two solar panels on the hot water system supplying buildings 15 and 16, and then placed meters on the gas lines to the boilers for buildings 13 and 14 and for buildings 15 and 16. This will help us determine the efficiency of the solar water heating system. Because Zach West, our property manager, was able to purchase the gas meters for less than we expected, he purchased enough to monitor the gas consumption of all seven boilers, as well as the two barbecue pits.
In attaching these meters to our gas lines, should we have excessive gas consumption (based on our historical use) we’ll know we have a gas line leak or a broken hot water pipe, and can deal with it expeditiously.

Our hot water supply to each two story building is a recirculating system, with a line running from the hot water tank, through a recirculating pump to the building, then back to the boiler to be reheated. This past year we’ve heard a number of people voice concerns about how long it took to get hot water from the tap. At the price we pay for water, wasting cold water waiting for the hot water to arrive is costly. Investigating this, we found that only one of the seven recirculating pumps was working. Zach then found some recirculating pumps in our inventory, and has ordered others to bring our system back to proper operating status.

For some time we’ve been reviewing new products to replace the carpeting on the second floor landings of our buildings. As I write this, Zach assures me that this project is nearing completion on time and under budget with the paint product we chose: Restore. It’s easily applied, warranted for seven years, and is kind to the feet, while still providing a non-slip surface. Although there is no color that wouldn’t show some evidence of use, we chose a brown that closely resembles the main color of our buildings.

In addition to our incredible view of the ocean, one of the things that everyone is so fond of is our courtyard with flowering shrubs, trees and green grass. All of that demands adequate watering which, in the winter, is lessened due to our rains. But in the spring, summer and fall, it’s difficult to maintain the grasses to the level we have come to expect. In part, this is due to changes and additions that have been made to our irrigation system resulting in the reduction of the water pressure needed to reach areas that now have become dry and compacted. Too, in the past we haven’t followed a regular schedule of fertilizing. That problem is being addressed with the help of the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. We sent them a soil sample and they’ve indicated what we need to get the upper hand on better maintaining our grass. That said, water remains an expensive but vital element in keeping our courtyard green. So we’re currently working on reducing the number of sprinkler heads on each water supply line and adding new control valves and supply lines to obtain better coverage. Next, with the gradual compaction of the soil, we’ve determined that, periodically, we need to “punch” the grassy areas, using a device that pulls small round plugs out, enabling loosening of the soil while providing better aeration, water and nutrient delivery to the grasses.

I’m sure everyone realizes that “dry rot” is a continuing issue with our wooden structures located so close to the ocean. Dealing with it is a never ending project, but Zach, Afa and Kini are doing a superb job in taking care of the problem. In the past, the painting of some of the surfaces, like the front doors, resulted in a “fish scale” appearance. That issue is currently being addressed with proper stripping, priming and painting of the doors using a very high quality automotive paint.

Last year, we completed a project of changing all the lights at the foot of the building’s stairways to a low wattage warm white light, more in keeping with our resort theme. However, a few of our walkway and parking lot lights were, at some point, changed from the high pressure sodium lights to regular incandescent bulbs. Zach and his crew now have the materials needed to return those lights to the HPS systems, consistent with the original design. Too, they’re scheduled to begin cleaning the lenses on those lights so they provide better illumination…and a safer environment…during the nighttime hours.

Of course, all of these projects compete for time with our ongoing mission of mowing, trimming, thinning bushes and trees, planting, painting, cleaning, repairing equipment, and all the rest of the general maintenance that our resort needs. Too, taking care of emergencies such as broken water pipes, leaking gas lines, shorted out electrical systems or repairing broken equipment come first. So while some of these projects may take time before their completion, please know that Zach, Afa, Kini, Sasha, Bryson, David and Hermy are working diligently to make your Piece of Paradise a garden of which you may be justly proud.

Ken King, Jr.
President, Kepuhi Beach Resort AOAO