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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, November 5, 2002

Beach access road may be closed to vehicles

By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Central O'ahu Writer

Haseko Homes Inc. is considering restricting vehicles from its privately owned road that leads to the coastline off One'ula Beach Park in an attempt to curb illegal dumping on its property.

But community residents, especially surfers and fishermen who frequent the dirt road off Papipi Road in 'Ewa Beach, are against the restriction, saying access predates the development.

The dirt road, which continues to the coastline of Haseko's 'Ewa Marina Project, has been used as a beach access road for decades. Should Haseko restrict vehicular traffic, people will have to walk about a mile to the beach. That would pose problems for those lugging fishing equipment or surfboards, residents say.

But illegal dumping persists on Haseko property. What's being dumped — from car parts to construction material — is most likely being transported to the area by trucks, costing the developer thousands of dollars to remove and dispose.

"We don't care if people walk along our property," said Vicki Gaynor, community and government affairs manager for Haseko. "But this road has clearly been identified as a place to go to get rid of anything you want. It's a disposal spot."

According to the company, there have been several incidents of dumping of toxic and hazardous materials, including a 55-gallon metal drum of tar, since Haseko started developing the area in 1998.

In August 2000 the state Department of Health refused to remove several 5-gallon containers of what was classified as "contaminated and hazardous material" from the site, ordering Haseko to remove and dispose of it, according to the company. That cost the company more than $18,000.

About six months ago, vandals stole a chainlink fence surrounding the wetland, which federal and state law require the company to protect. Haseko has to replace the fence, which may cost about $30,000.

Residents who have used the road as a convenient beach access for years are upset with Haseko's proposal to stop cars and trucks from using it.

"You would have to park at Barbers Point and walk along the coastline through kiawe, broken glass and homeless people," said Darrell Iha, 37, president of the Oneula Surf Club, who uses the road to get to his favorite surf breaks. "I don't think so."

The area is home to several popular surf breaks, including Tree Stumps and Cove's. On weekends more than 100 people surf, fish or swim along that coastline, and use the dirt road to get there.

Alan Murakami of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. said he has tried to contact Haseko with regard to the road restriction and/or closure but hasn't received a response.

Realizing the problem with dumping, the Oneula Surf Club and the 'Ewa Beach 'Ohana have conducted beach cleanups about once a month for the past two years, said Jeff Alexander, 'Ewa Neighborhood Board chair. Two weeks ago the groups collected about 18 tires and a car battery.

"It's always been a dumping ground; we knew that," said Alexander, also part of the 'Ewa Beach 'Ohana. "We've been making efforts to work on this (problem)."

He doesn't think restricting vehicles from using the road is the solution. He believes that Haseko and the community can work together to monitor the area, clean the beaches and stop the illegal dumping.

"But we're going to keep that road open," he said. "Period."

Reach Catherine E. Toth at 535-8103 or ctoth@honoluluadvertiser.com.