'Recreational Renaissance' is great idea


POSTED: Sunday, January 25, 2009

The recent announcements by Gov. Linda Lingle and Department of Land and Natural Resources chairwoman Laura Thielen of plans for a statewide “;Recreational Renaissance”; are bound to attract interest among our state's recreational boaters.

There hasn't been such recognition for the need to improve our public boating facilities by an administration since Gov. Ben Cayetano was running for office some 14 years ago.

Of course, some waterfront cynics might point to the fact that Cayetano never actually bothered to fulfill his pledge to “;create a world-class boating program within the DLNR,”; so why get excited now?

But I digress.

The goals of this new Recreational Renaissance initiative don't apply to boating facilities alone, but rather, they are described as “;a comprehensive and system-wide recreational modernization that will provide all residents and visitors across the state with better and new recreational spaces that are well maintained, secure and enriching,”; according to information from the DLNR.

Nearly as important as these potential improvements is this administration's recognition that “;the state has not kept pace with demand,”; and that the DLNR must be reorganized to “;maximize efficiency and professionalism in maintaining recreational facilities.”;

The administration is proposing a $40 million General Obligation bond issue to generate a portion of the funding for the program, coupled with an additional $200 million in General Obligation Reimbursable bonds.

The plan is for the debt service on the GOR bonds to be developed from commercial and industrial leases on state land, together with a combination of scheduled increases in small boat harbor fees, limited commercial uses in the Ala Wai and Keehi harbors and entry fees for nonresidents into certain popular state parks.

Some currently vacant lands with “;high development potential”; are also being reviewed as property to be developed through public-private partnerships and are hoped to generate $6 million in new revenue within six years.

The creation of new marinas on Sand Island and in Keehi Lagoon may become examples of these partnerships. More than just boat slips, they would offer haul-out yards, ocean education facilities, outrigger canoe storage, beach parks, and camping and picnic areas.

Overall, if approved by the Legislature, the plan will fund 46 projects on Kauai, 73 projects on Oahu, 39 projects in Maui County and 60 projects on the Big Island.

The DLNR plans to adopt the National Parks Service assets management program and model boating facility standards to guide it in its Recreational Renaissance.

Such a program will help it to keep detailed inventories of all assets and to monitor their condition, maintenance requirements, life cycles, and replacement costs. It will also help, when needed, to create adjustable projections and priorities for unforeseen circumstances.

Will the DLNR come out of the Dark Ages as this renaissance implies? Only your legislators can make it happen.