Big bucks planned for state parks and trails

Andrew Raffanti
Andrew Raffanti
Joe Mas Morel
Joe Mas Morel

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The state has an ambitious plan to spend hundreds of millions of dollars over the next five years on island recreation areas.

On a beautiful day in the islands, hundreds head onto the ocean to enjoy a day of boating or sailing.  Many more will hit the 275 miles of trails around the state.

"Hawaii is beautiful, I love Oahu and the all the nature," said Andrew Raffanti, a Waikiki resident headed up the Diamond Head trail.

But all the activity takes it toll on our parks, waters and hiking areas.

So the state has a plan, to preserve, restore and modernize public parks and recreation areas by spending $240 million.

To pay for the improvements, some parks would charge fees for users, similar to the one at Diamond Head on Oahu. An idea many visitors don't seem to mind, if its to help preserve our parks.

"I think it's ok as long as the fee is relatively low," said Danish visitor Frederik Fahrenholtz.  "Paying one dollar to get to the top of Diamond Head, no problem."

Part of that money would go to the state's 20 boat harbors, spendng millions to fix up broken down docks. But then getting money back in monthly rents from boaters.

But this 'plan' is something Joe Mas Morel has heard before.

He is looking at the state's ideas with skepticism.

"Thirty years I've been in here and it's a bunch of promises," said the longtime Keehi Harbor boater.  "But they don't improve the docks, they are coming apart."

Boaters surrounded by crumbling piers and damaged docks wonder why their monthly rent isn't already going to maintain this lagoon and fear the cost of new construction won't be covered by the expected revenue.

Additional money for parks and recreation areas will come from rent on the state's commercial and industrial lands, along with leases and concessions in parks and small boat harbors.