A study to determine whether the Pohoiki boat ramp can reopen may happen in months or in mere weeks.
State Rep. Joy San Buenaventura said she has had discussions with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and House Finance chairwoman Rep. Sylvia Luke to determine whether a feasibility study on reopening the Pohoiki boat ramp could be funded using funds from 2018.
Those discussions have been “promising,” San Buenaventura said, and have lead to a commitment to start the study in the next four to five weeks.
If that commitment falls through, however, the study may be funded another way. Earlier this month, a bill was introduced in the state Senate that would add funding for a feasibility and cost study relating to the boat ramp to the state budget.
That bill, Senate Bill 472, specifically requests $1 million “or so much thereof as may be necessary” for the study.
San Buenaventura said the bill would serve as a fallback option, although Sen. Russell Ruderman, who co-introduced the bill, said that “one of them is a fallback option and we don’t know which is which yet.”
San Buenaventura had been hoping to avoid funding the study through the state legislature, as the bill — if it is passed at all — will only appropriate funds at the end of the legislative sessions, months from now. However, Ruderman said he and the representative are in “complete agreement” on the issue, and having more options on the field will increase the likelihood that the study happens.
Should the study be funded by San Buenaventura’s method, the bill will become superfluous and be discarded, Ruderman said.
Ruderman said he has had his own discussions with the DLNR and impressed upon them the necessity of having the ramp looked at by engineers.
During the Kilauea eruption last year, lava entering the ocean deposited approximately 14,000 cubic yards of sand in front of the ramp, rendering it inaccessible.
“The ramp isn’t just a way to get into the water,” Ruderman said, explaining that the boat ramp is a major economic driver for Puna.
The study will not only determine whether the Pohoiki ramp can reopen, but also whether building a new ramp at other sites would be viable. While Ruderman is skeptical that the boat ramp will be able to reopen, he said he will support reopening it quickly if the study determines it is feasible.
Email Michael Brestovansky at email@example.com.