When Grove Farm donated nearly six acres to Kauai County in 2015, the land gift was specifically intended to host the island’s first inpatient drug treatment center since Hurricane Iniki wiped out the last one nearly 30 years ago.

Kauai Adolescent Residential Drug Treatment Center
Kauai’s new $7 million Adolescent Treatment and Healing Center is in a rural setting, but close to a hospital. Brittany Lyte/Civil Beat/2020

In a community starved for mental health and addiction resources, it’s been a long time coming: Kauai cycled through three mayors before the public center, first proposed in 2003, came to fruition in 2019.

But now the county has a new plan for the facility, which was constructed using $7 million in state and county funds. Instead of housing youth with drug and alcohol dependency problems, the county now envisions the building as a hub for preexisting services for at-risk youth and families, such as crime victims and witness protection services, Kauai Teen Court and Life’s Choices Kauai.

Last month the county canceled its contract with Oahu-based Hope Treatment Services to operate the eight-bed youth rehabilitation center, citing problems with the company’s “performance and responsiveness.”

In a letter sent to Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami on Thursday, Grove Farm President and CEO Warren Haruki said he is disappointed that the original vision for the facility “was not given a chance to succeed.”

Haruki said in the letter that no one at Grove Farm was contacted about the planned changes for the use of the facility.

He noted that Grove Farm and the county years ago entered into a memorandum of agreement, which states that the property “shall be utilized in perpetuity solely for adult and adolescent health care use.”

“It doesn’t appear that the original permitted use will ever be pursued,” Haruki wrote.

Now Grove Farm is requesting that the county provide a detailed plan for the property so that the land company can decipher whether the new vision aligns with the memorandum of agreement signed in Aug. 2015.

The building is currently designated by the state Health Department as Kauai’s isolation facility for people infected with COVID-19.

When the threat of COVID-19 subsides, Kauai County Managing Director Michael Dahilig said the county’s priority will be to fill the building with badly needed services for at-risk youth and families as quickly as possible. An inpatient treatment program is not an impossibility for the future, but he said the county doesn’t want the building to continue to go unused.

Read more about the shift in plans for Kauai’s vacant residential drug treatment facility here.

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