D Dock repairs better than nothing at all
I imagine most of Oahu's recreational boaters know about the repairs that are being made to the Ala Wai Harbor's D Dock by now. The news would be hard to miss, given all of the recent media coverage.
Although it's not much more than a Band-Aid on a hemorrhaging blood vessel, at least the state is finally attempting to postpone the death of this disintegrating marina.
As the Star-Bulletin's Rosemarie Bernardo reported last Tuesday, a private contractor has been hired to reinforce the previously condemned dock with steel frames and a plywood deck in hopes of restoring moorings for as many as 50 boats.
The project -- with a cost of $23,000 and a scheduled completion date of the end of October -- has been described by the Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairman Peter Young as just a temporary fix for extending the dock's life for a couple of years.
Still, if the project is successful, the same type of repairs may be used to extend the life of the equally deteriorated B and C Docks. And, every mooring counts in a marina with a minimum five-year waiting list for slips.
Young also told Bernardo the state now has funding and is accepting bids for the replacement of the Ala Wai's F Dock, which had been demolished in 2004 and has been replaced temporarily with a used dock donated by the Waikiki Yacht Club.
There is even reason to hope that if the bid and construction processes go smoothly, F Dock will be in place in time for next year's visit of the Transpacific Yacht Race's 70-plus-boat fleet.
Both Young and the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation's new acting administrator Ed Underwood consider a lack of money as the crux of the statewide marina maintenance problem.
Their solution will be to request $20 million from the Legislature next year for major improvements to the state's boating facilities, with some $3 million earmarked for the replacement of docks in the Ala Wai.
It is always hard to predict how our lawmakers will react to requests for capital improvement funding. But given the DOBOR's poor track record for selling the Legislature on its needs, and the recent critical audit of its operations, it probably can't count on anything for sure.
Additionally, if the lack of money is so critical, why hasn't DOBOR implemented the mooring fee increases the Legislature approved earlier this year?
DOBOR has been charging slip fees that are lower by half than virtually anywhere in the U.S. for over a decade, and yet correspondingly finds itself with insufficient funds for proper marina maintenance.
One would think that it would be important to quickly implement even the marginal increases it is now allowed to make.
Whatever the case, I'm sure most boaters would agree with Underwood's statement that the Ala Wai "should be our crown jewel harbor in Hawaii."
Who knows, maybe he'll be the one that makes it happen.