Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi and the city today held a blessing to honor the completion of a longtime project repairing worn or missing steps at the Koko Crater Stairs.
The city partnered with the Kokonut Koalition, a nonprofit which coordinated thousands of hours of labor by hundreds of volunteers that manually hauled more than 600,000 pounds of materials up the incline. The group secured the final repaired step at the top of the stairs on Saturday morning.
With about $100,000 from the city to help launch the effort, the Kokonut Koalition raised another $120,000 from individual donations and larger contributions from the Central Pacific Bank Foundation and Home Depot.
“We are blessed to have an amazing ensemble of volunteers and non-profits that help to keep our island community beautiful and functioning, and the Kokonut Koalition is without a doubt one of the most tenacious, hardworking organizations I have ever encountered,” said Mayor Rick Blangiardi in a news release. “The herculean effort they organized these past months, and the attention to detail and coordination with our City staff, is a testament of their devotion to this very popular public resource and to Koko Crater. A big heartfelt mahalo to all of the incredibly tough, hardworking, selfless volunteers.”
Over the past 10 months, the Kokonut Koalition and volunteers spent every Saturday and many weekdays carrying sandbags, buckets of gravel, bolts, nuts, screws, tools, and lumber up the steep trail to repair the steps.
The original steps that hikers climb are made up of wooden cross-ties from the Koko Crater tramway built by the military in 1942 to transport cargo and personnel up to the summit, which served as a radar station. The station was deactivated in 1947, and abandoned structured turned over to the city in 1966.
The Kokonut Koalition in 2018 launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to make emergency repairs to the stairs.
By the time volunteers began emergency repairs in January, only about a third of the original 1,048 ties were in functional shape. The job was completed in 10 months instead of the projected two to three years, thanks to support from the community.
“We’re so proud of our accomplishment,” said David Nixon, president of the Kokonut Koalition, in the news release. “Huge numbers of people sacrificed weekends and weekdays for 10 months, huffing and puffing, dragging the supplies up the mountain, and laying each new step or load of gravel by hand. By putting our blood and sweat into this mountain it has made our community strong in every way. There is still work to be done maintaining this popular trail, but everyone is thrilled with the condition of the stairs now and with how quickly we were able to finish this work.”