Cleanup of Ala Wai Tops Wish List for a New Year

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (01/02/99)
By Ray Pendleton

New Year's resolutions I dreamed were made at the stroke of midnight last Thursday:

State officials vowed to begin the long over-due process of dredging the Ala Wai Canal - Hawaii's "most polluted waterway" - this year, after more than a decade of testing, studies, meetings and planning sessions.

. The most prominent users of the Ala Wai Canal - canoe and kayak paddlers - collectively resolved to take more interest in maintaining their storage and launching facilities, and to take an active part in all organized litter clean-up days.

. The other prominent users of the Ala Wai, at least at the harbor end - recreational boaters - enthusiastically echoed the paddlers' resolution.

. Honolulu's city/county bureaucrats and politicians promised to find a way to repair and maintain the Natatorium War Memorial, but just the arch facade, and then spend the remainder of their budgeted $11.5 million on a weekly, scheduled street sweeping service for Waikiki to reduce pollution to the Ala Wai and the ocean.

. The powers-that-be in the federal Environmental Protection Agency then quickly promised to fund an additional million dollars to the Ala Wai Canal Watershed Improvement Project.

. Over at the Department of Land and Natural Resources, a group resolution was made to finally give the private sector a chance at running one or more of its Small Boat Harbors to create more boating revenue and free up state personnel for public safety-oriented duties.

. The DLNR's Boating Division chiefs then followed with a resolution to create an understandable version of their boating regulations - pared down from its current 600-plus pages - and then provide public education and enforcement.

. Those same public servants additionally vowed to find a way to once again establish long-term leases for the Waikiki and Hawaiiyacht clubs - two waterfront institutions that unquestionably deserve such leases for the boating activities they provide to the community.

. At the state's Department of Transportation, its bureaucrats promised to establish a more boater-friendly Honolulu Harbor by creating a small marina adjacent to Aloha Tower Marketplace. And, in so doing they finally admitted that recreational boaters and commercial shipping can coexist, as it does in most harbors of the world.

. The movers and shakers of the state resolved en mass to support the efforts of Aloha Racing Team, Hawaii's challengers for the world-renown America's Cup. They had suddenly realized that if Aloha Racing captured the Cup from the New Zealand Yacht Squadron, holding a future America's Cup regatta in Hawai`i could translate to over $2 billion in revenue to the state.

. Boaters of every ilk discovered our Whale Sanctuary in reality had not become the threat many had imagined it would, so they resolved to support the on-going efforts to protect the rights of these huge, but endangered, mammals.

. And finally, with the aftershocks of New Year's Eve firecrackers still echoing in my ears, I dreamed I heard Hawaii's citizens, at last, cry "never more" to the public's use of explosive fireworks. It was finally accepted by everyone that both the physical dangers and the tons of litter along our shorelines could no longer be tolerated as a harmless cultural practice.

Here's to making 1999 a year where anything is possible.

Hau`oli Makahiki Hou!

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