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StarBulletin.com

Bellows beach closure plan upsets neighbors


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POSTED: Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Marine Corps has decided to close its beaches at Bellows Air Force Station to the public starting this weekend and through June due to what it called “;persistent unsafe and environmentally destructive activities.”;

But at least a couple of Waimanalo Neighborhood Board members said they feel the closure is “;unfair.”;

“;Basically this is just a few people spoiling it for everybody,”; said board member Andrew Jamila Jr. “;We don't want this to be mass punishment for people.”;

Jamila said he did not know until a few days ago that the beach area was experiencing problems, including illicit drug use and drunkenness.

The Marines, which use Bellows as a training area for amphibious landings, open a portion of the beach area for public use on weekends.

The corps said the closure is due to unsafe activities, including drug use, fights, large campfires, trash dumping, off-roading on the beach, alcohol use and vehicle break-ins.

The Marines said the area would be cleaned and reopened in time for the Fourth of July weekend.

The military, retirees and guests may continue to use the Air Force cabins on the beach in a restricted area.

Board Chairman Wilson Kekoa Ho said many Waimanalo students are out of school in June and July, and the decision eliminates 50 percent of their camping time.

Ho said Bellows attracts people islandwide on weekends, and he felt thousands of residents were being punished for the conduct of a small minority.