Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hawaii Kai Park May Charge User Fees

The DLNR (Dept. of Land & Natural Resources) is facing budget cuts, just like all other state agencies. Director Laura Thielen asked for $240 million in bond money, but lawmakers said "no" and cut the DLNR budget by more than 20%.

Thielen is going to Plan B, which will probably include charging nonresidents a fee, $1 to $5, to enter 8 high-traffic parks throughout the state, increasing slip fees at small boat harbors, and partnering with volunteer community groups to fix problems at little or no cost. Among the parks on the list is Hawaii Kai's Ka Iwi Scenic Shoreline.

Other popular parks which may start user fees include the Nu'uanu Pali wayside park on Oahu; Koke'e/Waimea parks and Ha'ena Beach on Kaua'i; Makena Beach and 'Iao State Park on Maui; and Kekaha Kai and 'Akaka Falls parks on the Big Island.

There has been no significant objection from the Hawai'i Kai Neighborhood Board to a fee at the Ka Iwi shoreline. In this time of budget restraint and lack of funding, user fees only make sense in order to keep the parks open. Charging at Diamond Head hasn't slowed the number of visitors, and the annual fee income has actually increased from 2003 to 2008.

Hawaii Kai's Ka Iwi shoreline is one of its most beautiful assets, and if nonresident fees mean the park can be maintained and kept open, it seems a small change to make. Many nonresidents purchase property here, and eventually move to our islands, so continuing to make parks available to all only makes sense.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

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