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Nonprofit group advocates for reopening Haiku Stairs

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 9:25 a.m. HST, Mar 25, 2013

A nonprofit is encouraging the city to reopen access roads to the Haiku Stairs, also known as the Stairway to Heaven, and implement a management program similar to the one at Hanauma Bay.

The Honolulu City Council’s Park and Recreation Committee at 10:30 a.m. today is scheduled to take up the controversial issue of what to do with Haiku Stairs.

The original wooden stairs were built to provide access to a Navy radio antenna atop the Koolau Range in Haiku Valley. They were replaced in 1952 with metal stairs.

Under former Mayor Jeremy Harris' administration, the city repaired the 3,922-step stairway, which was shut down in 1987 due to disrepair.

The city had planned to reopen the Haiku Stairs in October 2002. But from 2002 to 2003, the popular hiking attraction became a point of contention with area residents. They claimed hikers were trespassing through their property, parking on their streets, blocking mail delivery and trash pickup and arriving early in the morning, causing dogs to bark and waking residents. So access was fenced off.

In August 2012, Don Tiki show singer and comedian Fritz Hasenpusch died while on a hike.

Hikers continue to trespasss. In February, A man and woman from the mainland were cited for trespassing after they got lost while hiking the Haiku Stairs trail. The two were cited for trespassing, a petty misdemeanor.

“Haiku Stairs is an historic marvel that is far too valuable to destroy — particularly when there are more effective, sensible solutions available,” said Vernon Ansdell, president of Friends of Haiku Stairs, in a statement. “There are four access roads that can be reopened to allow hikers to approach the stairs during daylight hours without disturbing the neighborhoods.”

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