The stairway to heaven may be shut off from Earth for good.
The Haiku Stairs—a renowned and infamous set of stairs on a mountain top in Hawaii could be demolished in the near future under a proposal authorized by Honolulu’s mayor this week, putting an end to a decades-long dispute over the famed attraction on Oahu.
The hike, dubbed the “stairway to heaven” by locals, climbs almost 2,800 feet to the Koolau Mountains’ ridge. The 3,922-step climb is popular with visitors and thrill-seekers, despite having been closed to the public since 1987.
In a statement earlier this week, Mayor Rick Blangiardi of Honolulu stated it was “inappropriate” to have a prominent tourist attraction so close to privately owned land.
“We recognize the interest the stairs have to certain community groups. However issues such as trespassing, personal injuries, invasive species and overall safety of the public cannot be ignored,” Blangiardi said, in part.
Last week, the Honolulu City Council unanimously agreed to a resolution calling for the removal of the steps, citing them as a possible liability.
The Associated Press reported that 93 people were cited trying to access the stairs over a 10-day period in March.
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The mayor stated that he agreed with the city council and that he planned to proceed with the costly removal process. The project has already received a $1 million budget from local lawmakers.
According to Honolulu Civil Beat, the city spent nearly $1m in taxpayer funding and hundreds of thousands of dollars in security fees to renovate the steps. The Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation is presently in charge of the steps.
The news has disappointed supporters of the stairwell’s preservation. Friends of Haiku Stairs president Vernon Ansdell stated he would continue to resist the plans to demolish the stairwell.
Ansdell told the Civil Beat: “Every time I’ve been up, sometimes it’s cloudy, sometimes it’s rainy, and sometimes the wind is howling. But when you get up there, the clouds start to clear.”
The outlet also reports that the US Navy built the steps during WWII to enable access to a military radio station, and they became popular with tourists in the 1970s.
Voyagers could obtain a waiver from the Coast Guard, which was in charge of the trail at the time, to see what was regarded as “Hawaii’s best view.”
The Coast Guard blocked off the stairs in 1987 after receiving reports of defacement and trash, but even the prospect of a $1,000 fine didn’t deter determined hikers wanting to feel like they’ve touched the sky.