Removal of illegal Haiku Stairs swing will cost $23,000

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An illegal swing at the summit of Haiku Stairs will soon be gone.

That’s according to the Board of Water Supply, which has finally gone on camera to address the dangerous addition to what’s also known as Stairway to Heaven.

Beginning Tuesday morning, the Board of Water Supply says a contractor will remove the makeshift swing, chains and rusted poles that support it.

“The swing, which was unlawfully installed on the poles next to the stairs, creates an additional and dangerous attraction for thrill-seekers and hikers and needs to be taken down,” said BWS manager and chief engineer Ernest Lau.

KHON2 was the first to report about the swing and its danger to the community.

“In a way, your story brought to light the risk of the situation, but it also did shed light on the swing being there,” Lau said. “Until then, we understand it was mainly through social media that it was advertising the location of that swing.”

Since then, a video has gone viral of a woman nearly falling off the swing atop Haiku stairs.

“It only takes one or two out of a thousand to screw it up for the rest of us,” said Marcus Griego, who runs 808 Caveman Hiking Group. “We don’t need this kind of negativity about hikers. I’ve heard people say, ‘I’m going to go take it off.'”

We’re told a group of hikers cut down the swing sometime Monday.

We were sent a photo, which we shared with Lau. He said he would look into it, but the plan to remove the existing poles hasn’t changed.

“Let us do it, because there’s a possibility they might injure themselves or kill themselves by trying to put it down, because it looks very dangerous and very risky,” Lau said. “I’d rather have a contractor that’s properly equipped has the appropriate safety equipment, proper protection equipment to protect themselves and their workers and do it safely.”

The work will cost roughly $23,000, BWS said, and come out of the utility’s water ratepayer funds.

“It does involve contracting with a helicopter, because remember this is at the top of the ridge, over 2,000 feet in elevation, so to get the workers and tools up to the top to have the poles and swing removed, we’ll actually be flying it from a helicopter on the ground all the way up to the top of the ridge and back and forth throughout the day,” Lau said.

Only the swing, chains, and poles will be removed. The stairs themselves will remain intact.

Area residents can expect to hear sounds from the helicopter that will be used to transport the workers to and from the work site, as well as retrieve the debris for disposal.

The Board of Water Supply says the swing was installed 2,750 feet high and if someone got hurt, it’s a liability to the state.

It’s still not known who put the swing up or when, but Lau said, “we would love to talk to those people to let them know what they did was very dangerous. We’re not sure we can hold them legally accountable, but we want to make sure they fully understand their actions, and if somebody got hurt, it would rest upon their conscience that they created such a dangerous feature up there that may have cost somebody their lives.”

The BWS reminds the public that hiking Haiku Stairs and trespassing on watershed land are illegal and violators who are caught can face fines as high as $1,000.

The utility says it is currently exploring ways to remove the stairs entirely.

“We’re about providing safe, dependable and affordable water to our community, now and into the future. We’re not about managing stairs like this,” Lau said. “We’re not about taking care of hiking features and trying to prevent people from injuring themselves. We do that out of necessity to keep our community safe, but that is not core to our mission.”

BWS says it is close to securing a contractor to prepare an environmental impact statement exploring removal options.

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