homepage logo

Foundation receives grant to replace public access stairs at Napili Bay

By Staff | May 23, 2019

This photo of the Napili Bay access stairs was taken on Dec. 14, 2018.

NAPILI – Napili Bay and Beach Foundation (NBBF) scored another grand slam grant for the community, with an award of $75,000 from state Capital Improvement Project (CIP) Grant-in-Aid funds.

The goal is to replace the aging concrete public access stairs at the south end of the bay with well-engineered stairs more resilient to sea level rise and resulting coastal erosion.

The monies will partially help fund the engineering design, permitting and construction of the improved public access.

Founded in 2006, NBBF is a 501(c)(3) organization; its mission is to protect and improve the health of this priceless resource.

Pat Lindquist is the president of the nonprofit, author of the grant application and an owner at Napili Shores.

According to application stats, Napili Bay is a popular sandy beach, ocean recreation destination used by 200,000 annually – 50,000 residents and 150,000 visitors.

The resorts fronting the bay were developed in the early to mid-1970s, with two public beach access points – one mid-bay and the other described as the “path/stairway at the Makai end of a hui road, Napili Place.”

Napili Beach resort guests have access from their properties.

Built in the late ’80s, the stairs were added to the bay infrastructure to facilitate safe public beach access from the elevated headland on the south end, compliments of the homeowners of Napili Surf, along with a beach shower.

The Napili Surf and Napili Shores share in the cost of the state land lease.

Over Labor Day in 2017, significant south swell activity all but destroyed the cement structure; and, since then, its structural integrity has been undermined.

Photo-documentation taken late last year “show crooked, uneven stairs, sometimes so far ‘akilter’ that they have to be barricaded from use.”

Last week, the Lahaina News went on a site visit with Napili Surf General Manager Tano Taitano during south swell, high surf warnings.

Waves pounded the beach in a sand-grabbing sweep back into the bay.

“The past two years, the ultra-swells – the big norths and the big souths, the King Tides – that we’ve been getting have literally torn up the stairway now,” Taitano observed.

Building new public access is no longer a question but a necessity; and the $75,000 will kick-start the process, he added.

The design phase is currently underway along with consultations with sea engineers and structural architects.

Then there’s the permitting and public hearings; the commencement of construction probably won’t happen for another year, Taitano advised.

West and South Maui Sen. Roz Baker speaks highly about the project.

“I appreciate private citizens helping to ensure that there is safe, public access to the ocean. Taking care of our oceans is everyone’s responsibility,” the lawmaker representing the District 6 opined.

Tara Owens is a Coastal Processes and Hazards Specialist with the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program.

Owens recommended the state approve the GIA petition for funding.

“I have been working with the NBBF for nearly nine years as they have partnered with County Departments, subject matter experts and local stakeholders to pursue a range of projects to restore and enhance the overall health of Napili Bay. The NBBF has a successful track record of bringing stakeholders together to develop common goals and then following through to achieve an outcome,” she wrote in a letter to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means in January.

“In this case,” Owens continued, “the NBBF is proposing to use grant-in-aid funding to supplement local support to provide much needed beach preservation and shoreline access improvements at Napili Bay.

“This is in line with our collective programmatic goals, including a major tenant of the Hawaii coastal zone management program to provide public shoreline access. Moreover, this comes at a very critical time in West Maui when the impacts of high waves and shoreline erosion are already severe and impacting the existence of access to and along the shoreline.

“The public access at the south end of Napili Bay has been periodically undermined by erosion and seasonal beach changes, and we know that these conditions will increase in frequency. However, proactive steps can be taken now to improve shoreline conditions and public infrastructure, so we can continue to provide adequate access to Napili Bay,” Owens advised.

Since its inception, the NBBF has established a solid record of stewardship of this West Side treasure, including fundraising, planning and implementation of two large infrastructure remediation projects and helping to create and underwrite a water quality monitoring program.

“Given limited resources,” Owens concluded, “public/private partnerships have become a keynote for maintaining and improving our coastal resources. The state grant-in-aid program is a good opportunity to develop a public-private initiative, and this… project is a good example of a partnership where resources can be leveraged to benefit all stakeholders.”