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Thielen not giving up on Recreational Renaissance

Karin Stanton/ Contributing Editor

Now the legislative session is over, the fall out begins. One of the casualties was the governor’s Recreational Renaissance program, which was designed to update and improve the state’s facilities.

The bill was supported by the House, but the Senate killed it late in the session.

Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairwoman Laura H. Thielen said that was a disappointment, but the department remains committed to repairs and maintenance.

Thielen wrote:   

The original Recreational Renaissance initiative: 

1) Proposed $240 million in capital improvements to our states public recreational facilities in dire need of some tender loving care over the next five years at virtually no costs to the tax-payers, and 

2) Proposed amendments to statues to allow the department to adopt cost-efficient routine repair and maintenance.   

We agreed to amend the proposal to eliminate any budget items and simply allow the department to adopt cost-efficient repair and maintenance. Unfortunately, the Senate killed that effort as well.   This was particularly rough since our budget has been dramatically cut and we had hoped for support to increase our efficiency. 

Recreational Renaissance – So what now? 

We think these public recreational places are too important to you, our own families, and the state, to simply give up and wait for next year.   

We are working on Plan B, and we’ll get back to you at the end of the month to give you the details. 

Just so you know, Plan B cannot include any capital improvement projects. DLNR cannot do any capital improvement projects unless the legislature gives us the green light.  And since we didn’t get the green light, we can’t: 

* Fix any piers or boat ramps that are cracked or falling into the water, like the one at Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor. 

* Fix any cabins that need improvements to provide a safe enriching experience, like the one that burned down at Malaekahana State Recreation Area. 

* Fix the deteriorating rest-room facilities, like the comfort station at Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area that needs new roofing and plumbing.   

* Enhance interpretive signage and facilities, like a visitor center at Kaena State Park. 

What we can do is concentrate on the repairs, maintenance and security aspects of the Recreational Renaissance plan. We can also work with you this year as we implement and continue to improve the Recreational Renaissance initiative. 

We look forward to working with you to improve these important recreational places. Mahalo nui loa. 

Laura Thielen

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