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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)

Parks Dept Proposes Beach Entrance Fee

Parks Dept Proposes Beach Entrance Fee

Proposed Park Entrance Fee: Parks Director has just proposed that the County start charging an entrance fee for Kanaha Beach Park. the Fee, proposed at the “Cost of Govt Commission, meeting 12/8/2016”. This proposed new parking entrance fee for Maui County parks is under review and consideration, and not yet implemented. The Fee is intended to be primarily targeting Tourists and Businesses. This is sad because Maui is increasingly unfriendly towards tourism. Although Tourism is Maui’s Primary Economic Engine. And Maui also has the distinction as being the worst place for small business in the state and across the country.

Targeting Tourists: A Beach Entrance Fee aimed at Tourists sends the wrong message to our visitors that our local economy depends so much on them. We should be welcoming tourists with open arms and aloha, and making it easier for them to come here and spend vacation dollars and support our local businesses, and economy.

Tourists feed the Economy: Tourists eat in restaurants , stay in hotels, rent cars, do local activities, buy souvenirs, and promote our island through word of mouth. Charging tourist aimed fees gives visitors a negative feeling, and leaves them with a bad impression of the islands. The beach is one of the last free public assets, and should not be commercialized and monetized simply to pay for the additional government costs of enforcing the fees.