Proposal aims to dismantle breakwater near Shangri La

Proposal to remove rock wall at Cromwell’s Cove advances
Published: Nov. 14, 2016 at 11:25 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2016 at 5:27 AM HST
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KAHALA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A $2.5 million proposal is aimed at preventing people from putting themselves in danger while jumping or diving into the ocean at a scenic spot on Oahu's south shore.

The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art wants to dismantle a lava rock breakwater at Cromwell's in order to boost safety while maintaining public access to the shoreline. The former boat basin at the Shangri La estate was built by Duke in 1937. Under the new proposal, the Diamond Head breakwater would be dismantled while the one on the Koko Head side would remain.

"Folks might continue to engage in risky behavior no matter what we do, but I don't think it's fair for us to stand by kind of idly," said Konrad Ng, the museum's executive director.

Joanna Neu heads to Cromwell's Beach once a week to study and soak up the sun. She often sees people jumping off the nearby breakwater.

"I'll see a lot of kids, mostly boys, big boys, jumping off. It looks really dangerous," said the Manoa resident.

After several serious injuries and two lawsuits, the foundation installed a six-foot tall fence along the shoreline walkway in 2014. The security team, however, still deals with problems each month.

"We see anywhere from 50 to 100 kinds of activities that look like people are jumping, people are drinking, or they look like they're doing drugs," said Ng.

Under the proposal, boulders from the Diamond Head breakwater would be used to stabilize the existing seawall along the shoreline since there will be more wave action. The state has reviewed the draft environmental assessment and anticipates a finding of no significant impact.

"I think it could be dangerous just because, I don't know, I feel like it's a good protectant as of now, but I also feel like it might be a good idea just because I know there could be a lot of injuries," Neu said.

The shoreline will look similar to rocky coastlines in the surrounding areas, according to the foundation. The estimated price tag for the project is $2.5 million. No public funds will be used.

"It is a shame. It's really sad because they've done everything that they can do that's humanly possible, so what are they going to do?" said Diamond Head resident Linda Wong.

The public comment period for the draft environmental assessment ends on December 8. Once all of the necessary approvals are secured, the construction phase of the project is expected to last six to nine months.