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How to save Haiku Stairs? Kualoa Ranch suggests they be moved

Updated: Mar. 4, 2020 at 5:48 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - With breathtaking views, Kualoa Ranch on Windward Oahu attracts tourists and filmmakers alike.

With that in mind, Kualoa Ranch President John Morgan submitted an idea to the city on the long-debated future of the Haiku Stairs.

"If they come down, how about put them up some place else and if that is a viable option, we'd like to consider putting them up here at Kualoa Ranch," he said.

Morgan says the ranch has the infrastructure to manage a potential new attraction.

Some 5,000 acres is privately owned by Kualoa Ranch. The land is zoned for agriculture and goes up to conservation. Morgan says any proposal would need to go through a lengthy process.

"It would be a another kind of thing people could do at the ranch and another way to see nature, beauty and scenery. That's the mountain that we think would be appropriate to go on," he said.

In its environmental impact statement, the Board of Water Supply says due to complaints and liability, it favors taking the Stairway to Heaven down at a cost of $1 million.

The city hopes to keep them in place.

“The city prefers to re-open the stairs in Haiku under a fee-based managed access program awarded by a competitive bidding process,” said city officials, in a statement.

It says vendors would need to propose a credible plan for addressing and enforcing illegal access through the neighborhood.

Friends of Haiku Stairs wants the stairs to remain in place and hopes to be a part of their management.

"I think really the stairs have to stay where they are. Removing them you are not going to be able to recreate the experience at Haiku Stairs," said Vernon Ansdell, president of Friends of Haiku Stairs.

State Rep. Scot Matayoshi, meanwhile, says Kualoa Ranch’s proposal is a good third option.

"This provides us with a third alternative that is honestly kind of a win-win in my mind which we could take the stairs down, take it away from the community that it's disturbing, put it back up on private property in a managed area," he said.

The city received 14 responses to its request for information and anticipates a bidding process to start by summer.

Morgan says the ranch is not interested in managing the stairs where they are.

“We looked at that and the challenges of dealing with all these different entities, we just didn’t want to touch it,” he said.

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