What exactly happened to a $9 million project ostensibly dedicated to improving Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor between Waimea and Kekaha?
After seven years of waiting and hoping, that’s exactly what William “Bill” Mossman, son Glenn Mossman and other Westside recreational and commercial boaters are wondering.
Based upon plans and promises, the Mossmans and others thought they would be getting a floating-dock that would accommodate 45 boats and more importantly, a rebuilt breakwater and the dredging of 4.5 acres that would deepen the harbor and improve safety.
Instead, they may be getting nothing.
“The project is dead,” said Richard Rice, administrator for small harbors for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR).
Rice said that, when the bids came in late last month, they were each for $17 million, about twice the cost of the project.
“I don’t know why the bids came in so high,” he said.
About 80 percent of the project was to be federally funded and administered by officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, while state leaders were on the hook for 20 percent of the project.
Rice speculated, but could not confirm, that federal funds could be diverted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ efforts to rebuild parts of the Gulf Coast ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.
Rice, who said the breakwater facet of the project was the most expensive, said no one had any advanced word on the projects because the bids were made public late last month.
“A lot of our damage was also caused by a hurricane, Hurricane ‘Iniki, said William Mossman, who said the Kikiaola project had been designated part of the state’s master plan, and was being degraded.
“The bids came in high, but we have to do something to salvage part of the plan,” Mossman said.
William Mossman said there is still a meeting planned Monday, Oct. 24, with state officials in Honolulu. He said he is seeking support from Kaua’i legislators, including state Sen. Gary Hooser, D-Kaua’i-Ni’ihau, and state Reps. Ezra Kanoho, D-Lihu’e-Koloa, and Hermina Morita, D-Kapa’a-Hanalei.
“They’re scare tactics,” said William Mossman, a leader of the Hawaii Boaters Political Action Association, referring to Rice’s comments about the project being dead.
Mossman said he and others are also upset by proposed changes to the original plan that “lowered the bar” by substituting a seven-vessel, Tahiti-style mooring system (basically poles planted in the harbor that boats tie up to) for the larger docking facility, and reducing the dredging area from 4.5 acres to 1.2 acres.
“The most important thing is their absolute refusal to have a public-information meeting,” William Mossman said.
Rice said a meeting will be held next month. Mossman said it would be too little, and much too late.
“I hate to see our money get wasted. The track we have to take now is to concentrate on the dredging and not the breakwater. We have enough money to do that,” he said.
Glenn Mossman, a Kekaha resident and president of the Kikiaola Westside Boat Club, said a lack of maintenance dredging in the harbor has led to damage being caused to boats in the harbor, and a dangerous, life-threatening condition with waves breaking at the harbor entrance.
“We feel we are being poorly handled. We are not getting a fair shake on this,” Glenn Mossman said. “Boaters should be made aware of changes before a contract is awarded.”
The single purpose of the improvements and dredging work is to make the harbor safer, more efficient, in terms of allowing public access to the ocean, Glenn Mossman said.
During high-wave conditions, many boaters in Waimea and Kekaha use the Port Allen Small Boat Harbor instead of Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor to get into the ocean, he said.
- Andy Gross, business editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 251) or firstname.lastname@example.org