HANALEI — Work is ready to commence on the construction of the Hanalei Pier canopy, said Tony Motta, president of the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay, who was joined by Rotary Club members, supporters for the Save the Pier campaign, and dignitaries from the county of Kaua‘i during the blessing for the construction of the canopy Tuesday.
“We already have some of the lumber and work can start right away,” Motta said. “We’re just doing the blessing and work can start.”
The Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay took on the project in 2010, when George Corrigan was its president. Bob Capwell’s administration in 2011-2012 spearheaded major fundraising efforts, and the project is coming to fruition now under Motta’s leadership.
The massive project involved numerous hands and help from the Rotarians, the community and abroad.
“In collaboration with the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, the new structure will look almost like the old one,” said Branch Lotspiech, head of community service for the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay. “The materials used will be upgraded and when completed, the canopy should be a 30- to 50-year building.”
Capwell said that, in addition to spearheading the canopy construction, the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay has “adopted” Hanalei Bay, installing and caring for the rescue tubes, as well as signing on to help maintain the canopy once construction is completed.
“The club got behind this project, the community got behind this project,” Capwell said. “We (the Rotary Club) are fortunate to be the point in building the most photographed and iconic landmark.”
The Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay raised money to rebuild the entire shed and canopy from the pier up, as well as provide licensed contractors for the project, according to officials with the DLNR. The DOBOR provided approximately $50,000 for the removal and disposal of the canopy which was taken down in December. The amount also covers roofing material for the new canopy, officials said in a release.
“Were it not for the strong support of the Hanalei Rotarians, this repair project would have cost state taxpayers more than $200,000,” said William Aila Jr., DLNR chairperson, in the release. “The Rotary’s leadership and community engagement has made it possible to preserve and perpetuate the essence of this historic structure while ensuring public safety.”
Gov. Neil Abercrombie, in a special message read by Kaua‘i County Council Vice Chair Nadine Nakamura and member JoAnn Yukimura, praised the collaborative effort between the community, the state and the County of Kaua‘i “to preserve both a historic and community landmark.”
“The Hanalei Pier has played a large role in Kaua‘i’s history, culture and lifestyle,” the governor’s message states. “The pier was constructed for the initial handling of agricultural exports between Hawai‘i and the rest of the world.”
Kopa Stanley Kaluahine of the Rotary Club, officiant of the blessing, said the pier was originally built in 1892 to help the farmers move taro out of the valley.
Kaluahine said the original pier was extended to 340 feet in 1912, and in 1921, at a cost of $25,000 for concrete, the wooden structure was replaced with concrete.
When commercial shipping came to a halt about 80 years ago, the pier became used for recreational purposes and as a gathering place for families and North Shore residents, having appeared in numerous magazines, and being used as sites for a number of movies.
In 1979, Hanalei Pier was designated a National Historic Landmark, the governor said.
“In 1933, the pier was abandoned,” Kaluahine said. “But people used to gather for family outings and meetings. Today, in 2013, we gather, again, to perpetuate the legacy.”
In 2010, the deteriorated condition of the pier had become a safety issue and was in drastic need of being demolished, or being repaired, with the cost of repairs a major concern, according to the governor’s message.
That’s when the Rotary Club stepped up to start fundraising efforts and began to work with the DLNR on reconstruction plans.
Kaua‘i County Council Chair Jay Furfaro, explaining the word “Hanalei” being a “Crescent Bay,” “Hana” being bay and “lei” referring to the traditional style of open lei resembling a crescent, said he was delighted by the work and effort put forth by the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay to preserve a symbol of the area which has a lot of history.
Yukimura, Nakamura and Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. all said that they have memories of jumping off the pier as youngsters.
“This is about family and ‘ohana,” Carvalho said. “What a wonderful way to outreach. Everyone comes together to make a difference, the community coming out to support this effort which will take away the old and create something new, all in the same footprint.”
Nakamura said the project and efforts by the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay is “a gift to more than just the island of Kaua‘i.”
Because the project involves more than just constructing the canopy, but also includes maintenance of the facility, the Save the Pier campaign continues to appreciate any contributions which can be made by visiting www.hanaleirotary.org.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.