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Lawmakers want boat harbor to be freed from state control

By Star Advertiser staff; Star Advertiser; January 24, 2017

Star Advertiser

 

Two state legislators from Hawaii island want to oust the state as manager of the Honokohau Small Boat Harbor.

Currently under the state Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, the harbor is in constant disrepair, the lawmakers said.

Rep. Nicole Lowen (D, Holualoa-Kailua-Kona-Honokohau) has introduced House Bill 188, which would allow a transfer of the harbor to Hawaii County, West Hawaii Today reports.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to look at taking things in this direction, but essentially DOBOR … is a source of huge frustration for the community on a consistent basis,” she said.

Sen. Josh Green (D, Naalehu-Kailua-Kona) introduced a bill last year that would have allowed for the privatization of the harbor. It’s a move he still maintains would lead to quicker, more comprehensive upgrades and maintenance.

“I can never get enough appropriations to fix things, and people are always frustrated that we have a second-tier harbor,” he said. “So if someone wants to take up the challenge in a partnership, I think we should let them.”

Green’s bill died in conference committee over possible concerns about potential cost increases or restricted access. But he insists that a bidding process would allow for oversight.

Green says the most likely outcome of privatization would be that a group of harbor users would band together, perhaps with an investment partner, to operate it. He has introduced Senate Bill 22 this session to revisit the issue.

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