State unveils Sand Island plan

William Aila
William Aila
Eric Fisher
Eric Fisher

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

SAND ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Department of Land and Natural Resources has unveiled its concept for turning the western edge of Sand Island into the Sand Island Ocean Recreation Park.

"I think it's exciting. I think the general public is going to win because of all the public access that's going to be built into this process," DLNR chairman William Aila said.

Despite fishing, paddling and other water activities that go on there, the state calls the area undeveloped and under-utilized. It wants to widen the boat ramp and build a visitor center and a marina for 400 to 500 boats.

"This particular place has, to our knowledge, no coral," Aila said. "One of the biggest impediments to developing harbors is gone right off the bat."

Aila said there would also be boat storage and repair facilities.

Eric Fisher likes that idea. Besides shuttling tourists to Sand Island for Xtreme Parasail, he also repairs boats.

"That's more boats, more jobs, more opportunities," he said.

The new park would include more bathrooms, better parking, and pavilions for canoes.

But some who frequent Sand Island think the plan is too large for that area.

"It looks big on the map, but it's really a small and confined area. A marina there would really take up a lot of the space," Healani Pale said.

The state estimates the Sand Island Ocean Recreation Park would cost $29 million to build.  Aila said a public-private partnership would save taxpayers money and take the park from concept to reality.

"What it will do is provide safer access points for people that want to do standup paddling, want to do kayaking," he said.

The idea for the Sand Island park first surfaced in 2009. It's now out for public review and comment.

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