HYC, WYC committee is a good start
FROM any perspective, Hawaii's lack of even marginal recreational boating facilities is completely ludicrous. But there may be some changes coming for at least one of our islands' disintegrating state-owned marinas.
Historically, the management and maintenance of our small boat harbors have been the responsibilities of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, after those duties were transferred from the Department of Transportation in 1992.
For most people who have watched the slow but constant disintegration of those boating facilities since then, it's been rather easy to question the wisdom of that transfer.
After all, unlike the DOT, the DLNR had not had much involvement with income-producing, critical maintenance properties. And as a recent DLNR report to a Senate committee noted, the department feels the job was dropped on it, but that DOT kept the people who could operate the facilities.
"For years the needs of the harbors have taken away from other priorities within the department," the report added.
"It is evident that the (DLNR) has not been able to do a good job maintaining the state's small boat harbors and the outlook in the future is not much better," it admitted. "Likewise, there is no compelling state concern that suggests state government must operate small boat harbors and ramps."
For a number of Hawaii and Waikiki yacht club members with boats in the Ala Wai harbor, all the above has become more than enough reason to get proactive on management reform.
They understand their marina, as the terminus of the century-old Transpacific Yacht Race and the home port of numerous international offshore regattas should be maintained to world-class standards.
They also have the collective organizational history and marina management experience of their clubs to draw on. The HYC was founded in 1903, with Prince David Kalakaua as an original officer, and the WYC was founded in 1946 and had Duke Kahanamoku as one of the original board of directors.
These club members have formed a committee and are now making a proposal to the state to create a public/private partnership for operating the entire 740-slip marina.
Briefly, the proposal is for the formation of a chartered nonprofit corporation to lease and manage the facilities -- independent of the two clubs -- with a professional manager to provide year-to-year continuity.
The committee claims a goal of completely rebuilding the harbor within five years, and then still charging less-than-market-value slip fees. It also intends to "aggressively promote programs" to make the harbor and its vessels active.
The committee looks forward as well to the addition of revenue producers such as a restaurant and a below-market parking fee structure that would create income as well as provide control and security for the entire facility.
If our state truly wants to get out of the marina business -- and it should -- this proposal may be a start.