HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city wants to move forward with a safety improvement project atop Koko Crater, but community members worry it will change the iconic view.
Lena Haapala, spokeswoman of Kokonut Koalition, which is a group that works to maintain and improve the trail, said they received word of the project moving forward about a week ago.
Haapala said the non-profit feels betrayed.
“It’s a stab in the back. Like I said, they’re getting paid to do this, to demolish something while we’re working our butts off,” said Haapala. “Trying to make this place safer for the locals for the community, for the tourists for ourselves because we love it so much.”
Kokonut Koalition has been repairing the steps of the Koko Head Trail since the beginning of the year.
When the city proposed a safety improvement project last year, the group pushed back and the project was delayed. Now, the city says it’s going ahead with its plans.
They want to remove the famed World War II era bunkers, tunnels and vents, which the city said are filled with hazardous debris. In addition, they plan to install warning signs and remove the summit’s steel platform which is partially resting on the old winch’s gears.
Kokunut Koalition said this will decimate the panoramic viewing experience that has been enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of locals every year for decades.
“When you stand on that platform, you can see everything, you can see Diamond Head, you know, you can see Molokai like I said, the Kaiwi coastline, Rabbit Island,” said Haapala. “You can see all the Ko’olaus and it’s a beautiful place.”
The city released a statement.
“The City recognizes that this platform was a popular location for pictures and served as a viewpoint at the summit, but it was not built for this purpose. It is our belief that the platform’s removal will only affect the view by a matter of a few feet. Furthermore, the platform is structurally unsound with part of it resting on the old winch gears. Having a safe viewpoint is more important than having one that is elevated by a few feet.”
While the city says they look forward to coordinating with the Koalition on possible maintenance at the summit that would further enhance the views, the non-profit is hoping Mayor Rick Blangiardi will postpone the project again.
And they’re asking the city to consider other alternatives.
“Well, we would like him to, hike up there with us, for him and the new administration to go and take a look, see for themselves,” said Haapala. “See the people that come up there and take these pictures and just check out the whole thing.”
Hawaii News Now reached out to Blangiardi who said the decision to move forward with the project was made by the past administration. He adds that they are looking into the matter further.