Honolulu Star Bulletin 02/15/03)
By Ray Pendleton
In a Water Ways column a couple of weeks ago I noted that replacing most of the state-owned docks in the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor would surely be a high priority for any company that might lease the marina in the future.
That was, of course, under the assumption that a privatization of the marina finally occurs if proposed Senate Bill 408 is passed.
But there are two other new bills that have been introduced by Hawaii's legislators that recreational boaters may also want to watch, as they could produce the needed funding for the Ala Wai and numerous other facilities as well.
Senate Bill 1585 and House Bill 1589 both authorize the issuance of general obligation bonds to finance small boat harbor improvements statewide.
"The ocean recreation industry contributes to the diversification of the state's tourism industry through the creation of multiple, new niche markets," both bills point out. "The industry's annual revenues quadrupled between 1981 and 1990, and were projected at $748 million in 1995.
"A strong harbor and waterfront infrastructure is critical to the continued growth and prosperity of Hawaii's ocean recreation industry," they continue. "Improvements are needed to small boat harbors throughout the state to ensure that Hawaii's harbor facilities are able to support ocean recreation and other marine activities."
To fund such improvements, both bills propose the state issue general obligation bonds for nearly $21 million for appropriations for fiscal years 2003 to 2005.
Most importantly, these bonds would not require reimbursement of principle or interest from the Boating Special Fund.
Just reading the list of long overdue improvement projects proposed in these bills for fiscal year 2003-04 is enough to bring joy into the hearts of most people in our recreational boating community.
For O`ahu, there would be over $4.5 million to replace the aging floating docks in the Ala Wai, $360,000 for pier replacement in Keehi Lagoon and $465,000 for improvements in the North Shore's Haleiwa Harbor.
On Maui, there would be some $400,000 for improvements to Kihei's launching ramp and loading dock, $200,000 to replace the outer wharf in Lahaina's small boat harbor and $170,000 to replace Hana harbor's launching ramp, build a new loading dock and repair the access road.
The Big Island would see $810,000 for repairs on the Kailua-Kona wharf and Lana`i would receive $404,354 in repairs to the Manele small boat harbor, including its entry drive, internal road, parking lot, turnaround and landscaping.
The bills also earmark $2 million for improvements to harbor comfort stations and sewers statewide, along with $125,000 for general boat harbor facilities planning.
These identical appropriation bills additionally propose the sale of another $5.5 million in general obligation bonds during the same period to pay for improvements in other harbors, but the principle and interest for these bonds would be paid from the Boating Special Fund.
With so much to gain, there can be little doubt that boaters around the state will be keeping a close eye on the progress of SB 1585 and HB 1589.
To many veteran sailors, their passage would be an answer to decades-long dreams.
HoloHolo Hawai`i Ocean Sports News