EAST HONOLULU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the city looks into access issues at an Oahu nature preserve, community leaders are speaking up. One lawmaker hopes that hikers will no longer have to trespass to get to the Hanauma Bay ridge trail.
"I think that we should open it up until the point that we deem it's safe and not a major liability to the city or to people's health and well-being," said Honolulu City Councilman Trevor Ozawa.
Ozawa, who represents East Oahu, said he is working with the city parks department to explore possible options. City officials have said the warning signs are up to protect public safety and sensitive equipment belonging to various agencies. Ozawa believes part of the paved roadway should be open to the public with safeguards in place to limit the city's liability if hikers wander off the path into dangerous areas.
"I want to make sure that we strike a balance with the community, both sides of the issue. How far we extend the path, if we do? Where will there be parking? What are the safety concerns?" explained Ozawa.
"It is a nice, easy trail and everything, but there are a lot of things that need to be look at and a lot of different people need to be brought in," said Sid McWhirter, president of Friends of Hanauma Bay.
The city is still trying to retrieve gate keys that were issued to fishing clubs more than 20 years ago. McWhirter said fishermen should continue to have access.
"They have a very long history of dealing with that area and this is going back long before Hanauma Bay was made a nature preserve. I would hate to see that change," McWhirter said.
"Perhaps we can come to a middle ground. Perhaps there's some sort of compromise we can have with regard to the fishing area," said Ozawa.