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Process stalls Hanauma repairs

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    HANAUMA BAY BLUES / Estimated costs for repairs
    Video projector, education center: $7,000 to $8,000
    HANAUMA BAY BLUES / Estimated costs for repairs
    Metal guardrail leading to top lookout point: $250,000
    HANAUMA BAY BLUES / Estimated costs for repairs
    Touch-screen computers: $25,000
    HANAUMA BAY BLUES / Estimated costs for repairs
    Thatched roof for information booth: $10,000 to $25,000

Many visitors to Hanauma Bay venture up a winding, concrete path to take in the breathtaking view.

But a metal guardrail leading to the highest lookout is pocked with severe rust and corrosion.

"Some little kid is gonna get cut up there," warned volunteer Bob Kern.

The guardrail exemplifies the disrepair at Hanauma Bay. Some longtime volunteers are now criticizing the city for its lengthy procurement process for fixes that could have been avoided with proper maintenance.

The bay has a special fund generated by entrance and concession fees, but it still has to go through the same procedures as a city project paid by general funds. That frustrates those who help preserve the site.

"Because Hanauma Bay has its own fund, it should have its own procedure," said Kern, who previously served as vice president of Friends of Hanauma Bay.


» Revenue, FY 2010: About $5.5 million

» Operating budget, FY 2010: $6,094,245

» Proposed budget, FY 2011: $5,926,041

» Daily visitors: About 3,000


A separate process for the approval of work would mean fixes could be done in a timely manner and allow preventive maintenance.

Approximately 40 feet of the guardrail leading to the lookout is corroded, with some sections pockmarked with large, rusty, sharp-edged holes.

Kern’s wife, Micki Stash, who also volunteers at the bay, said the staff has requested a new guardrail for years, but nothing has been done.

"There’s a lot of things that can be done that aren’t getting done," said Stash. "The money is just sitting there."

Les Chang, director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, said replacement of the guardrail, estimated to cost $250,000, is not an easy fix and has yet to be green-lighted. In the meantime, the parks department will look into a short-term solution to remedy the safety problem.

But that is not the only trouble at Hanauma Bay.

At the education center, visitors are required to watch a 15-minute video on how to protect coral and marine life. Because of optical problems with the projector, the bay’s sparkling, blue waters appear murky green.

For the past five months, thousands of visitors have watched the video through the yellowish tint that almost masks the entire screen. "It’s just horrible," Kern said.

It is unconscionable, he added, that $13 million of taypayers’ money was spent to construct the education center and the city does not maintain it.

"Where’s the pride?"

Other downed equipment includes touch-screen computers in the education center that feature photos of coral and fish. Volunteers say it has been inoperable for a year and a half.

Funds budgeted to replace the computers were diverted, Kern said. Contracting issues also delayed the fix in recent months.

"We’ve had one small delay after another," Chang said.

The city is slated to replace the computers sometime this month.

At the beach a section of the information booth’s thatched roof is balding, exposing the frame.

There are a lot of challenges at Hanauma Bay, Chang said.

"It’s not typical of other parks," he said. "We’re on it, but it takes a little longer because it’s unique."

Last month, Kern presented the disrepair issue to the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board. Members will address it at their July 27 meeting at the Hahaione Elementary School cafeteria.


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