The state needs to close the Mala boat launch ramp for two months for an $892,000 improvement project.
The question is, when's the best time to shut it down?
State Department of Land and Natural Resources Boating Engineer Eric Yuasa, Rep. Angus McKelvey and Sen. Roz Baker met with boaters last week to discuss the project.
According to the state, the two concrete loading docks at Mala are old and badly deteriorated, and they must be replaced before they become a safety hazard.
In the project, the existing concrete loading docks will be replaced, as well as a portion of the launch ramp and approach to the ramp. Parking lot and related improvements are also slated.
Reached after the meeting, Rep. McKelvey emphasized that the project is funded and approved, and the contractor has been selected.
The late, great Sen. Daniel Inouye is no longer in Washington, D.C., to secure federal funds for a revised Mala project.
McKelvey added that permits for ocean-related projects are very difficult to secure.
The improvements at Mala are long overdue.
"When it's done, it will be one of the best deep water ramps in the state," he commented.
The key questions are when to close - October/November and January/February are the leading choices - and how to accommodate users at West Maui's only boat launch ramp.
Rep. McKelvey said boaters may be offered temporary use of other Maui ramps, moorings offshore of Mala or temporary use of space at Lahaina Harbor.
A follow-up meeting has been tentatively slated for Tuesday, June 18.
DLNR's objective in meeting with boaters and ramp users is to determine a mutually agreeable two-month closure period for the boat ramp loading dock construction, and how to mitigate impacts to the recreational and commercial boaters that regularly use the ramp.
Harbor users that will be impacted by the project may send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org this week.