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Windward // Windward Oahu Coverstory
Carol Chang

Stairway To Heaven Heading For Dump?

The Friends of Haiku Stairs asked the city Parks and Recreation Committee last week to reopen the access roads to the stairs and implement a management program similar to that at Hanauma Bay.

The March 25 testimony came amid proposals from nearby residents and government officials to tear down the stairs in order to eliminate the trespass and liability issues that have cropped up following the $875,000 restoration in 2001 of the steel ladder steps. The stairway of 3,922 steps was first installed out of wood by the U.S. Navy to access radio transmission antennae in 1942.

“Haiku Stairs is a historic marvel that is far too valuable to destroy – particularly when there are more effective, sensible solutions available,” said Friends president Vernon Ansdell, a physician. (The city owns the popular-yet-forbidden stairway, and suggestions are circulating to remove the bottom rungs of the structure.)

“We can’t turn the tide alone,” Ansdell added. The nonprofit group also has a petition on its website, haikustairs.org, with the statement “We support the reopening of Haiku Stairs.” Members conduct a few work days each year to clear the trail and remove alien species.

The Friends and others consider the stairway trail a valuable environmental and cultural resource. At ground level, however, neighbors to the trail see unruly, noisy strangers tromping through their yards, using their water hoses, etc.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell recently weighed in on the stairs dilemma by indicating the possibility of reopening them, if the illegal trespassing problems raised by Haiku residents can be resolved first. The parks committee chairman reportedly will form a working group to look into solutions.

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