To demolish or not to demolish–that is the question regarding Haiku Stairs, also known as Stairway to Heaven.
Right now, the answer seems to be leaning heavily towards demolish.
We’ve been following the story since Monday after strong winds damaged the restricted and already dangerous trail.
What to do with the restricted trail has been a talking point for many years, but this recent damage could be the final straw unless someone steps in soon.
For groups like The Friends of Haiku Stairs, fighting to save the trail is their main priority. “Folks would fight to save the stairs,” said former president John Goody. “As you know, they are very popular.”
“We know a lot of people do want to take care of it like us,” said vice president Jill Radke. “We prefer it to stay in a public entity like the city or the state, but we know there are other non-profits that can take care of it.”
The Board of Water Supply is in the process of drawing up plans to remove the stairs, but did say it would also be willing to part with the property.
“It could be done, but essentially I think we need a government partner,” said Goody. A government partner has yet to step forward.
There are also questions if a smaller group could take on the liability of managing the stairs.
“We can obtain insurance for it. It’s a low-risk relatively or an unknown risk, but yes, it’s all feasible. It all can be done. It needs a willing cooperating government body,” said Goody.
Another issue that came up is the cost of removing the stairs.
While the Board of Water Supply still has to do a study to find out how much it would cost to dismantle the trail, previous estimates put the number at between $4 million and $5 million.
“You could take half of the cost of removing the stairs and put programs for management of the access and put some facilities in the valley that would allow folks to arrive in the valley without bugging the neighbors,” said Goody.
KHON2 reached out to the Board of Water Supply and received this statement:
“The mission of the Board of Water Supply is to provide safe, dependable, and affordable water to the residents of Oahu. Access to the stairs has been prohibited since 1987 due to safety and liability concerns and maintenance of this trail for recreational purposes is not a prudent use of ratepayer money. Any government agency interested in taking over the stairs must be prepared to study and accept the financial and liability costs associated with responsibly overseeing the site.”
The Board of Water Supply also pays for security on the property which costs $160,000 a year.