Help is on the way for Ala Wai
Our state's division of boating and ocean recreation will soon be making some of the most dramatic improvements in decades to Oahu's Ala Wai Boat Harbor.
And I imagine most recreational boaters would say the changes are coming none too soon, considering the huge demand for mooring space and that the Ala Wai has long been regarded as the "cash cow" for the boating special fund.
The harbor's public marina has suffered severely from an extended bout of deferred maintenance that caused row after row of slips to be condemned. And once condemned, of course, those moorings were no longer a revenue source for the special fund.
Finally though, DOBOR replaced the F Dock's 70 slips early this year and it now says the semi-submerged B, C and D docks are scheduled for replacement in September. When completed, that will add another 160 state-of-the-art slips to its inventory.
Do the math. This increase of 230 slips for boats averaging 40 feet long, at the present slip rate of $5.25 per foot, equates to more than $48,000 that will soon go into the special fund every month.
But there are more than new moorings on DOBOR's drawing board. Last week it received approval from the board of land and natural resources to issue "requests for qualifications and proposals" for a long-term lease on the Ala Wai's fuel dock and boat-yard properties.
According to DOBOR, the fuel dock site, which includes a fuel facility and a convenience store (and a holding tank pump-out station), has been operating under a revocable permit.
The boat yard -- Ala Wai Marine -- has been running its haul-out and repair facility "under an expired license as a hold-over tenant billed on a month-to-month basis."
DOBOR's request notes the fuel dock site and facility "are in poor condition and require substantial upgrades and repairs, ... however (the tenant) has indicated it would be uneconomical to invest a substantial sum of money ... without a long-term lease."
It also notes that the boat yard, as recently as April 9, had been issued notices by the Department of Health for permit and discharge violations, which, in turn, would infer its operator will also be facing expensive upgrades to those facilities.
So, while DOBOR's plan calls for substantial improvements at the fuel dock and the boat yard, it wisely admits to its own lack of "expertise or funding" for the projects as well.
Its plan then is "to issue a (65-year) lease that will require the lessee to provide for an improved/upgraded fuel facility and haul-out/boat repair facility." And, the plan will allow for additional uses and operations that are consistent with current laws and ordinances.
DOBOR doesn't provide a specific rent amount for such a lease, but rather, proposes it should be not less than the "fair market" value, as determined by its staff or an independent appraisal.
I'm sure Hawaii's recreational boaters will be watching to see if this new lease will live up to DOBOR's expectations of increased lease rent revenues.