Deadline arrives for public to weigh in on future of Haiku Stairs
KANEOHE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The controversial Haiku Stairs have been the subject of debate for years.
Now, the Board of Water Supply wants to know what you think the future of the "Stairway to Heaven" should be.
The available options:
- Take them down.
- Find a way to allow hikers to use the stairs without trespassing.
- Sell the land to another government entity to manage.
- Do nothing.
"We would be very remiss as a city agency just to turn the land over without knowing that it was going to be properly taken care of, and one of those big pieces for us is legal access," said Board of Water Supply spokeswoman Kathleen Pahinui said.
No one is allowed on the stairs and trespassers can be fined $1,000.
But social media and word of mouth encourage people to continue to break the law.
"There's other hikes you can do but nothing as spectacular as the stairs" said Friends of Haiku Stairs president Vernon Ansdell.
The non-profit wants the stairs re-opened with someone managing access to the scenic climb.
"Unfortunately, that would mean people having to pay to go up there. But that would provide the funds so that we could provide adequate security, insurance, maintenance and staffing to run the project," Ansdell said.
Residents of Haiku Village, meanwhile, have long complained about hikers trespassing on their properties to get the base of the stairs.
Ken Rose wants the stairs removed, unless a way is found for hikers to reach the stairs without trespassing. He doubts that can be accomplished.
"If we can find a way to stop that and work it out that doesn't impact the residents, we'll be happy to hear it," he said.
The Board of Water Supply owns the land under the stairs, and it spends $170,000 a year for a security guard to keep hikers out of the area.
Pahinui said there are safety concerns associated with the stair climb to the top of the Koolau Mountain range.
"I would say that if you're not careful you could get seriously hurt. Our proposed action is removal of the stairs," she said.
Ansdell contends that would be a mistake.
"To remove it would be outrageous to my mind," he said. "It's a stairway with railings. You go up. You go down. You can't get lost. Simple common sense, you won't get hurt up there."
The public has until May 23 to voice comments and concerns about the options for the Haiku Stairs.
The city Department of Planning and Permitting will be the accepting authority of the EIS. A decision on the stairs may be made sometime next year.
To weigh in, click here.
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