Nonprofit group says it is ready to manage Haiku Stairs
The president of Friends of Ha‘iku Stairs said the nonprofit intends to put in a response to the city’s request for proposals for a group to repair, operate and manage the controversial hiking area.
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The president of Friends of Ha‘iku Stairs said the nonprofit intends to put
in a response to the city’s request for proposals for a group to repair, operate and manage the controversial hiking area.
“We think we have a plan that will be cost-neutral,” said Vernon Ansdell, the group’s president. “We think it addresses all the issues regarding access and trespassing and security, all these things, pretty well, and at the same time will have this strong, educational and cultural component to it.”
The city Tuesday issued a Request for Information seeking ideas regarding procurement structure, financial/commercial feasibility, technical feasibility and other issues surrounding a concession at Haiku Stairs.
An entity to actually provide managed, fee-based
access to the area for recreational purposes will be sought later through a separate competitive solicitation.
The stairs, part of a World War II-era military installation, have been closed to the public for decades, but the asset is visited daily by throngs of hiking enthusiasts who ignore both security guards and trespassing signs. That’s led to complaints by residents about hikers trespassing on and vandalizing their properties while traveling to and from the stairs.
The quasi-independent Honolulu Board of Water Supply owns the land on which the stairs sit. Noting that it costs $250,000 annually to hire security to deter trespassers, both BWS management and its board are eager to unload it.
Ansdell said the Friends would propose a two-tier payment system — with a different rate for visitors and local residents — for escorted hikes up the stairs, But it would limit the number of hikers up the stairs per day, and factor in times when the stairs would be closed due to weather.
He doesn’t want to see the stairs managed by a purely commercial operation out to make as much profit as possible, he said. “If so, there would be enormous pushback from residents and the Native Hawaiian community,” he said.
A final environmental impact statement released last month restated the board’s intent to either remove the stairs or turn them over to another government entity because of the ongoing liability and security costs tied to retaining the asset.
BWS spokesman Kathleen Pahinui said the board will wait until March 24, the end of the challenge period for the FEIS, before deciding its next move.
Council Chairman Ikaika Anderson, who represents the Windward side, said he supports the mayor’s attempt to open the stairs to the public through a controlled access point, but he wants the city to make a decision in the coming months. If the city is not prepared to do that, BWS should be ready to dismantle the stairs, he said.
Responses to the RFI must be received no later than 4 p.m. Feb. 28.
Submittals can be sent to the Office of the Purchasing Division, Department of Budget and Fiscal Services, City and County of Honolulu, 530 S. King St. Room 114, Honolulu 96813.