The first step has been taken to demolish Haiku Stairs, also known as Stairway to Heaven.
The stairs have been closed for nearly 30 years, but people still hike it illegally.
“I’m told it’s a beautiful hike, but it isn’t core to our mission of providing safe drinking water to our community,” said Ernest Lau, manager for Board of Water Supply.
The Board of Water Supply’s board of directors agreed to spend half a million dollars to figure out how to remove Haiku Stairs. Money would be released in the upcoming fiscal year, and the study would include an environmental assessment.
“To have people go up into these watershed lands and do all kind of things in the watershed lands, it isn’t helping the quality of our water,” Lau said.
KHON2 learned the Board of Water Supply spends $167,000 a year on security guard service, trying to keep people off the trail, and officials say up to 150 people a week are caught illegally hiking there.
The Board of Water Supply says the property is a liability and has become more dangerous since last week’s strong winds uprooted trees on the trail.
“Our preference would be to transfer the stairs and that parcel where the stairs sits on to another government agency that is better equipped to handle the managed access,” Lau said.
Board of Water Supply officials say they asked DLNR and the National Parks Service to take over the stairs, but both agencies declined.
Officials say they will proceed with this first step of demolition, but still welcome any agency to take over the stairs and the parcel under it.
But they would like to see interest in writing, along with a plan on how to manage access to this trail, a plan that would not impact the community.
It could take one to two years to figure out the best way to remove the stairs.
When the plan is complete, officials will go back to the board to get the final green light to demolish the trail.