Government sends money the wrong way
For the past couple of weeks, I have written about the availability of grant money to boating organizations to fund safe boating projects. In both cases governmental agencies were not allowed to apply.
Now I find that according to a story in the boating trade newspaper Soundings Trade Only, there have been federal grants available to our state, but unfortunately Hawaii wasn't among the recent recipients.
I haven't learned yet if our state even applied for these grants, but apparently eight other states will soon be sharing a total of more than $8 million from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Boating Infrastructure Grant program.
The states receiving the grants for projects designed to improve public water access include Alabama, California, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Texas.
According to a statement by U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, it sounds like those grants would have been just what Hawaii needs right now.
"These grants empower state and local governments, and other partners, to improve recreational boating facilities, while enhancing access to recreational, historic, cultural, natural and scenic resources for millions of boat owners," he said.
And it's important to note that this grant program is specifically for the development and maintenance of facilities for transient, non-trailered recreational vessels.
I can't imagine a more appropriate recipient than Hawaii considering the century-old Transpacific Yacht Race's 70-boat fleet is less than a year away from arriving at our dilapidated Ala Wai Harbor.
Could the $1.08 million that Maryland's Baltimore Inner Harbor Center received to reconstruct its existing marina and provide 92 slips for transient boaters made a difference here?
What about the half-million dollars a summer camp on California's offshore island of Santa Catalina received for a floating dock, or the $825,000 that was granted to Marina del Rey to modernize an old fuel dock?
Redwood City's Westport Marina was awarded slightly less than $700,000 for new floating docks for transient boaters, while this year's largest grant -- $1.5 million -- was provided to San Francisco's Pier 38 Maritime Recreation Center for the construction of new docks, including a fuel dock.
Such funding might not have cured all of Hawaii's marina ills, but it sure couldn't have hurt as a way to prime the funding pump at the state level.
Somehow the legislature is always more agreeable to finding matching funds for capital improvement projects when a department can demonstrate that it has found a way to attract federal dollars.
On the other hand, as long as the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation must exist exclusively on a special fund that can be raided, the only apparently viable option will be for the legislature to allow the DOBOR to pursue alternate methods of managing our state's marinas.
Otherwise, at the present rate of disintegration, there won't be a public boat slip left floating in the whole state within another decade.