By Wendy Osher
A bill that would establish a Mala Wharf Task Force to examine the feasibility of redeveloping the collapsed pier at Mala Wharf on Maui, gained preliminary approval by a House committee on Friday.
The last time a feasibility study was conducted by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources was in 2006. At the time, the state agency was trying to gauge the wharf’s suitability for inter-island ferry service.
The latest measure, HB1423 HD1, was adopted by the House Committee on Water and Land, in conjunction with the Committee on Ocean Management and Hawaiian Affairs. It would require the BLNR chairperson to convene a task force for studying the redevelopment of the pier.
A media statement from the office of Rep. Angus McKelvey described the Mala Wharf pier as “a window into Maui’s past.”
Rep. McKelvey, who introduced the bill, and who represents the West Maui community said, “The key is to engage the West Maui community in the planning process, safeguarding the sensitive environmental resources, and honoring the harbor’s historical and social significance.”
The structure was originally designed as a commercial hub, but lawmakers now say the decrepit state of the pier–which has weathered tsunami events and constant breaking waves–creates a safety hazard for the increasing amount of local fisherman and recreational visitors.
Under the current version of the bill, the task force would consist of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, two members of the Lahaina community, one member of the scientific community with expertise in marine wildlife, one boating enthusiast, one member of the Hawaiian cultural community, one member of the visitor industry, and anyone else that the chairperson may deem necessary.