County park officials mull access fees

County park officials mull access fees

Free entry for everyone at Maui County parks could become a thing of the past.

Last week, the county Cost of Government Commission heard a suggestion to charge park entry fees for visitors and businesses from Vice Chairwoman Annie Alvarado.

“I thought it was something we should have a discussion about,” she said Thursday at a regular commission meeting.

The commission is an advisory panel that reviews existing county procedures and recommends improvements. The Maui County Council would need to approve park entrance fees.

The state charges parking fees at Iao Valley State Monument (although that has been closed following massive flooding in September), and the National Parks Service imposes an entry fee at Haleakala National Park. There are other park entry fees in the state. There’s a $7.50 entry fee at Hanauma Bay on Oahu, although state residents, active members of the military and children 12 years old and younger are free.

County Department of Parks and Recreation Director Ka’ala Buenconsejo said the idea of charging an entry fee at some parks isn’t new.

“It’s always been a conversation that is ongoing,” he told commissioners during a meeting in the mayor’s conference room in the Kalana O Maui Building.

Park fees for services such as rental of community centers and gymnasiums are deposited in the county’s general fund, he said.

If the county were to charge park entry fees, a likely place to start would be at Kanaha Beach Park, a popular and world-renowned windsurfing and kitesurfing beach near Kahului Airport, Buenconsejo said.

The park’s master plan calls for building a guard shack where entry fees could be collected as vehicles pass through.

(Maui News 12/11/16)

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