The City and County of Honolulu is considering ways to develop partnerships to refurbish and maintain the iconic Koko Head Trail.
The Koko Head Trail was built in World War II as a tramway, ascending more than one-thousand feet in elevation on the outside of Koko Crater. Railroad ties were spaced 3 feet apart but a number of these ties have been damaged or washed away by erosion. A volunteer group, the Koko Nut Koalition, with a “K,” wants to help the City rebuild the trail to make it safe. Drew Murphy is the Koalition president.
“We see well over a thousand people on a busy day on that trail. And, we’ve organized to work with the city and county in an effort to maintain it so that it doesn’t degrade much more than it already has and then, on a long term basis, to help with the planning for refurbishment of the trail so it can really be a first-class asset to the city.”
But, the Trail is not sanctioned, meaning, it’s not under State or City and County jurisdiction or oversight. Bethany Lee, a Hawai’i Kai resident who serves in the military and is a regular user of the trail, testified before the Honolulu City Council Parks, Community and Customer Services Committee.
“Tonton trail has been marked off limits, Kamehame trail has been marked off limits, Mariner’s Ridge has been marked off limits, Kamilo’iki Ridge has been marked off limits. Kuli’ou’ou Ridge is a state trail. It’s still open to the public but the neighborhood is so upset with the people and the parking condition there that they want to close that down as well. So, Koko Crater Trail offers rigorous hiking, great parking opportunities and restroom facilities for the region.”
The Department of Design and Construction is currently working out a cost estimate to fix the trail. Once completed, the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation will work with the Koalition and potential partners like the military, state, and Hawai’i Tourism Authority. Parks and Recreation director, Michelle Nekota, does not rule out charging trail users.
“We don’t know the exact cost of it yet or any estimate. We really haven’t talked about a user fee. We could charge like Hanauma Bay where we don’t charge for residents but we charge for nonresidents, visitors.”
But, Councilmember Trevor Ozawa, who represents Hawai’i Kai, says he will not support charging any fees.
“No, absolutely not. No, I don’t think the user fee is necessary at Koko Head. I don’t think the fee would be going to the right places, as well. And, that’s been my philosophy with a lot of these nickle and dime fees and I’m not trying to give the city an additional revenue source from people’s enjoyment of something, quite frankly, that I think we’re already paying for.”
There are no deadlines for the cost estimate or work completion. Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.