Friday, May 27, 2022 |
Share this story
Demolition tomorrow for segment of pier
by Blake Jones – The Garden Island
PORT ALLEN — The small boat harbor at Port Allen is not in the best shape. Portions of the pier are condemned, some collapsed slips have yet to be replaced and past repair work has been known to drag on.
But things could go from bad to worse if a section of the pier is demolished tomorrow as scheduled, as there are no immediate plans to replace it.
That means owners whose boats are docked on the other side of the missing segment will have to swim to their vessels, or lower themselves into a dinghy, paddle and climb back onto the pier. This is an all-too-familar scenario, as it happened the last time a portion was removed.
Boat owners were sent a letter dated Dec. 13 notifying them of the demo and asking them to contact their state legislators with concerns. Many did, and on Monday, two O‘ahu representatives from the Water, Land, Ocean Resources & Hawaiian Affairs Committee visited the harbor with Kaua‘i Rep. Roland Sagum, D-District 16.
Sagum said he asked his fellow committee members — Chair Ken Ito and Vice Chair Pono Chong — to visit his district so they could see the issues for themselves.
“The boating community down here has had to put up with a lot over the years,” Sagum said. “We should just condemn the harbor or make improvements.”
Joseph Borden, Kaua‘i manger of DLNR’s boating division, told the legislators Monday that his hands are tied. Due to cracks in the corroding cement, the first 40 feet of one of the piers was condemned months ago. The Department of Land and Natural Resources, which governs the state’s small boat harbors, has asked the Kaua‘i staff to proceed with the demolition.
Borden said he held off as long as possible but cannot cancel tomorrow’s demo without approval from DLNR Director Laura Thielen.
The dozen or so boat owners who met with the legislators said they’d like to see the section of pier shored up with steel I-beams instead of removed.
“At least create the new part before you take away the old part,” said one resident.
Since the meeting, Sagum and others have contacted Thielen’s office to appeal for such a temporary fix to keep the harbor intact.
As of press time yesterday, there was no word from DLNR on a possible change in plans.
While the issue may seem minor to outsiders, Sagum said, the Westside harbors are community centers.
“They’re recreation for some; for others it’s their livelihood,” he said.
Richard Iwamoto, the senior boat owner at the harbor, has had a vessel at Port Allen continuously since 1967. Though retired, Iwamoto continues to fish daily for akule. He goes out at night alone and returns in the dark. Maneuvering around a segment of missing pier would be too cumbersome on a daily basis, he told Sagum.
Ronnie Grover, general manager of Kauai Sea Tours, also came down to the harbor to meet with the committee members. Kauai Sea Tours rents two condemned slips, one of which collapsed into the water some time ago. Grover said she now parks her boats and loads them into the water with a trailer.
“DLNR has been great in accommodating us, but frankly, we don’t have our slips that we’re supposed to have,” she said.
The harbor brings in $135,000 a year from its 40 slips, 15 of which are commercial.
Borden told the legislators that there is a six-year waiting list to get a spot at the harbor, and he’d like to see additional piers installed.
To fully upgrade the harbor and raise it level with the road, Borden said it would take closer to $2.5 million.
Harbor staff and contractors at the informal gathering guessed that the cost of the temporary solution could range from $16,000 to $30,000. Borden said $60,000 in emergency funds was spent during the last section replacement on the same pier.
Following the visit, Ito said, “When I saw the (small boat harbor) here, it needs a lot of help, it needs a lot of repair, it needs a lot of money.”
• Blake Jones, business writer/assistant editor, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 251) or email@example.com.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
By participating in online discussions you
acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful
discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments
are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines,
send us an email.