Surfers, residents skeptical of state's proposals to fix deteriorating Waikiki groin

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state plans to fix the aging Royal Hawaiian groin to help preserve Waikiki Beach, and for the first time Tuesday night, the public had a chance to weigh in on the four proposals to repair or replace the crucial structure.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources says the groin is in a catastrophic state and fears the structure could fail or collapse at any moment.

"It's astonishing that it's still standing. If the groin fails, a lot of the sand along Royal Hawaiian Beach will erode," said Sam Lemmo, administrator of the DLNR Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands.

The existing groin -- built in 1927 -- is 370 feet long and located right between the Sheraton Waikiki and the Royal Hawaiian hotels. One of the proposals would create a new "T-head" structure at 180 feet long. It would be shorter than the existing groin, but much wider at the base, and the consultants say it should help retain sand on both sides.

"We don't believe that there's a significant environmental impact. We're trying to keep it as modest as possible," Lemmo said.

The majority of people who attended the public meeting at the Waikiki Community Center demanded DLNR use a model that's similar to the existing structure, citing concerns that a wider structure could affect the sand, surf, and other ocean conditions.

"If that can't be restored, replace it with the same footprint and the same type of groin that is there now because it's proven to have lasted for 88 years," said Keone Downing of Save Our Surf.

The other plans include a vertical concrete wall or using the existing groin as the core of a new one. The costs of all four proposals range from $910,000 to $1.2 million. Some say the hotels should pay up.

"This project should be paid for by a bigger percentage by the visitor hotel industry than the locals," said Waikiki resident Dave Moskowitz.

Which structure is selected is ultimately up to the Land Board, and they are scheduled to make a decision in April. Construction for the proposed project is expected to take two months.

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