Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced today that Kyo-ya Co. is donating $500,000 to the state’s effort to replenish the sands at Kuhio Beach.
The large-scale $2.5 million sand restoration project, which would stretch from the Duke Kahanamoku statue to the area between the Royal Hawaiian and Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, will begin after November. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is contributing $1.5 million to the project and the Hawaii Tourism Authority will give $500,000.
Abercrombie praised the partnership, which he said is the first time that the state, private sector and HTA have worked in concert for the beaches.
"If people don’t have confidence in the capacity of government to deliver, the request for support either monetary or otherwise is received skeptically or with reluctance," he said. "Now, it’s up to us to show that we can do the job. This is the first indication that we are moving towards a new day, a new direction. When we ask in the future for support, you’ll see more support."
Ernest Nishizaki, Kyo-ya’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, said the hotel company came forward because beach replenishment is vital for Hawaii.
"Our beaches are eroding and they are important to us here in Hawaii," he said.
Tourists and residents will benefit from the public private partnership, Nishizaki said.
"Beaches are a way of life for us here in Hawaii," he said. "I’m a local boy, I grew up playing on the beach and my little 9-year-old is growing up the same way."
This announcement comes as Kyo-ya is in the midst of controversy surrounding its attempt to get a shoreline variance that would allow it to build a 26-story Diamond Head Tower some 40 feet from an existing sea wall instead of the required 100-foot coastal setback. A decision from the City and County Department of Planning and Permitting to allow the variance has been appealed to the City and County Zoning Board of Appeals by Hawaii’s Thousand Friends, the Surfrider Foundation, the ‘Ka Iwi Coalition, KAHEA, and Michelle Matson