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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, April 26, 2002

Canoe club removes 1960s-era beach barriers

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser East Honolulu Writer

The Outrigger Canoe Club was fined nearly $3,000 and spent $42,000 to hire a company to remove the concrete pilings from the beach. Although the club acquired a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, it didn't get approval from the state. The club decided against applying for a new permit, conducting a study and paying for an easement.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

A concrete barrier placed in the water off the shore of Diamond Head 35 years ago to protect the beach has been removed because it lacked a state permit.

The Outrigger Canoe Club, which placed the concrete pilings in the ocean in 1968, paid a private company to remove them Wednesday after being found in violation by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

"The environment is important to us and if the pilings were causing a problem, we want to take care of it," said the Outrigger Canoe Club's general manager, John Rader.

Outrigger paid $42,000 to American Marine Services, the company that has done work for the city in the Ala Wai Canal, Rader said.

The firm sent divers to inspect the area and determined that the concrete barriers were placed on a sandy bottom. The barriers were removed, put on a barge and taken out to be recycled.

Since then, concerns have emerged that the coral reef in the shallow waters between the Elks Club and the canoe club may have been damaged by the work. The land department's Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement will inspect the reef for damage, said Deborah Ward, department spokeswoman.

Before the concrete barriers were removed, the club was fined nearly $3,000, said Sam Lemmo, state land department coast lands manager.

The issue came to light after the state received a complaint last year from a resident who said the pilings were affecting the beach, Lemmo said. The club had obtained a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers but not from the state, Lemmo said.

The area has been rife with complaints about beach issues, with a set of metal stairs being removed in front of the Diamond Head Ambassador last week and residents of the Kainalu Cooperative at the end of Kalakaua forcing the removal of an outrigger canoe last year that had been stored on the beach for years.

Lemmo said the pilings "were placed in the water as a way to preserve the beach, but they didn't get a permit from the state."

"We checked into our files and realized that there were no permits for these on file," he said.

The club was given two options, Lemmo said:

• Pay a marine contractor to remove the pilings, with care given to surfers, swimmers and kayakers.
• Apply for a permit and conduct a study to see what kind of impact the structure had on the shoreline and pay for an easement to keep the pilings in the ocean.

The club decided on removal.

"Generally these kind of structures obstruct the movement of sand," Lemmo said. "Preferably, we want a natural shoreline. The less structures there are, the better it is for our environment."

Probably what happened, Lemmo said, is that when the club obtained its permit, the Hawai'i government was still fairly new and few understood the need for a regulatory system, he said.

"We felt that if it was a concern for everyone, then the best for all concerned would be to remove it," Rader said. "The ocean is our life."

Reach Suzanne Roig at sroig@honoluluadvertiser.com or 395-8831.