Don’t throw boaters overboard at Kewalo
CHARTER boat operators and fishermen
The Hawaii Community Development Authority has proposed steep fees paid by boaters at Kewalo Basin.
are understandably upset about a proposal to sharply increase mooring and maintenance fees at Kewalo Basin, but repairs are badly needed at Honolulu's only small-boat commercial harbor. The Hawaii Community Development Authority must seek a balance between those needs and the risk that higher fees may drive boating enterprises out of the harbor.
The agency, which will take over responsibility for Kewalo Basin from the state Department of Transportation's Harbors Division in September, is cognizant of that task. "The ability of the tenants to absorb the increased cost will determine if funds are available to provide the increased level of services contemplated and pay debt service," HCDA acknowledges in its plan for the harbor.
Frank Mento, a spokesman for a group of commercial boaters campaigning against HCDA, protested that the agency "has no business running these public lands." It has no intention of doing so. It has requested bids by private companies to be property manager of the harbor, having decided HCDA will provide oversight but lacks the experienced staff available to undertake hands-on operation.
HCDA is seeking a company to do so, but decided that waiting for the winning bidder to propose fee hikes during the lengthy public planning process in the coming months would be "not viable."
Public/private partnership has been successful in the operation of hundreds of boat harbors on the mainland and would be especially suited for Kewalo. HCDA faces a challenge of improving facilities and services at the harbor through such a partnership without forcing commercial boaters out of business.
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