A few stories to remember for 2008
New Year's Eve has always seemed to me to be a time for both taking stock of the past and making plans for the future.
So, in that spirit, I have thumbed through the past 51 weeks of Water Ways columns looking for any I think have had topics that will most likely continue to have relevance in 2008.
The first one that jumped out at me was the most recent and it was regarding the parking fees the Department of Land and Natural Resources is currently proposing for the state's small boat harbors.
I agree with DLNR chairperson Laura Thielen's assessment that the new fees would "generate additional funds that can be used to make much needed improvements."
However, I think the DLNR should have looked at how most mainland marinas deal with the issue. For example, whenever there is a problem with limited vehicle parking spaces there, boat owners are given free preferential parking (albeit they often pay triple Hawaii's slip fees) and all others are charged rates at a fair market value.
Judging by the overwhelmingly negative comments at a recent DLNR public hearing from numerous concerned boaters and surfers who feel they are somehow entitled to free parking, I imagine this issue will carry well into the next year.
Along with the parking fees, I'm sure there are at least two other DLNR-related column topics from this year that will be reexamined in 2008. One will be the consideration of further slip fee increases and the other will be the on-going deliberation on utilizing public/private partnerships for our state's marinas.
After all, when boat owners begin to move into state-of-the-art docks like the new F-Dock in the Ala Wai Harbor, why wouldn't fee increases be considered? Even the most inept landlord understands you can, and should, charge more rent for a mansion than for a run-down shack.
And, with the state's half-century history of marina mismanagement, there is always the chance Hawaii's leaders will finally say enough is enough and give the private sector a chance to run these businesses like businesses.
Finally, I think it's likely the Hawaii Superferry will still be a lively subject of conversation and a source of Water Ways material well into 2008. But hopefully without the heated vitriol and lack of aloha a small minority contributed to the story in recent months.
Rather, I expect this enormous advancement in travel options for our state's population will eventually become as common and accepted as any cruise ship or tug and barge operation.
But then the ferry will possibly be making headlines instead by quickly transporting fire engines or other emergency vehicles from island to island in what is known in other states as a "mutual aid" response.
Or, more commonly, there will be the hundreds of stories told by delighted passengers who, for the first time, were able to view the islands they call home from the ferry's incomparable offshore vantage point.