State finally looking at Marina
A recent press release from Gov. Lingle's office didn't make much of a media splash, but it was certainly good news for Oahu's recreational boaters.
Dated April 13, it announced that she was finally releasing $1.65 million for the replacement of the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor's "F" Dock that had been condemned and demolished about three years ago.
This is the same dock that had been temporarily replaced last summer with a used, but serviceable dock generously donated to the state by the Waikiki Yacht Club to help cope with the influx of boats arriving in the Transpacific Yacht Race from California.
The donation was the result of the WYC's refurbishment of its marina over the past several years. And given that its investment has been less than $2 million for its five new docks and 154 slips, it will be interesting to see what the state gets for nearly the same price.
The governor's press release noted that "F" Dock accommodates about 70 boats, so by the May 2008 completion date, I'm sure boaters will see some very luxurious accommodations.
Also mentioned in the press release is that there are approximately 700 boat owners on the waiting list for slips in the Ala Wai, which brings us to another subject: What part of the law of supply and demand doesn't our state understand?
While the cost for everything in life has continued to rise over the past decade, the Department of Land and Natural Resources and its Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation have remained steadfast in offering the lowest slip fees in, perhaps, the civilized world.
It may be somewhat understandable when many of those slips are on the brink of disintegration, but what can be the rationale when new slips are made available, as was so in the Ala Wai five years ago?
When the privately owned Ko Olina Marina opened, or after the WYC built new docks, I'm sure both based their slip fees on their market value, as well as what was needed to pay for and maintain their facilities.
In the case of the WYC, even though it's a nonprofit organization, the slip fees were approximately doubled to around $9 per foot a month. How then can DOBOR continue to charge $4.25 a foot in the Ala Wai (and much less elsewhere) as it perennially complains of a lack of funding for maintenance and new construction?
In DOBOR's defense, there is a small, but vocal minority of boat owners who vigorously fight any attempt at establishing appropriate slip fees, and particularly any changes in marina management that might elevate Hawaii's boating facilities to world-class standards.
These individuals are apparently more concerned with maintaining their personal low-cost housing -- no matter how precarious -- rather than work for the betterment of boating.
That there hasn't been more outrage to this sort of thinking leads me to believe that the status quo is here to stay -- even with a new "F" Dock.