This morning, after 17 days, a metal fence at Makalei Beach Park blocking access to a Diamond Head shoreline path was removed by workers for the City of Honolulu Department of Parks & Recreation.
On Christmas Eve, Alexi Drouin, who lives by the park, was shocked and upset to see a private company erecting the metal barrier. “There was no notice,” Drouin said, adding that after calling around he learned the fence — and a second fence at the opposite end of the walkway, which leads past waterfront homes to Leahi Beach Park — was a city project.
“Success! Well, nearly,” said Cheryl Severn with a laugh, as she walked over with her morning coffee to watch the digging and drilling with Drouin.
“We’re halfway there,” said Drouin, referring to the second fence, which the city planned to leave in place until a safety hazard has been fixed, according to a statement released Thursday.
“Following public input and discussion, the Department of Parks and Recreation will be removing the fence installed at Mākālei Beach Park between the park and the makai walkway,” the statement said. “However, the fence at Lē‘ahi Beach Park will remain for the time being to mitigate the safety hazard near the walkway.”
While Severn and Drouin expressed gratitude for the city’s quick action in response to public complaints, they worried safety would be further jeopardized now, if walkers coming from Makalei, frustrated to find a barrier at the Leahi end of the path, try to climb over or around the metal fence, which is about 7 feet high and juts out past a gap where the walkway’s steel railings end.
“It’s trickier now,” said Severn, adding she had witnessed several people clambering around the fences.
In 2012, a Honolulu resident claimed she was injured while stepping between Leahi Park and the walkway, and sued the city and state; the lawsuit was settled for $275,000 in 2018.
Also this morning, at Makalei Beach, workers who said they were hired by a homeowner were repairing a section of a sea wall that had collapsed onto the sands, which are covered by the wash of waves during high tides.