into trampoline tumult
Stories, photos and videos by:
An illegal trampoline at a North Shore beach that has gained popularity through social media is being removed by the state. Or maybe not.
The trampoline at Laie Beach Park, better known as Pounders Beach, has slipped under the state’s radar for the last several months. During that time, it has been a hot spot for beachgoers
The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) was not aware of the mysterious trampoline until Ho‘a O‘ahu requested information about it this fall.
As of Oct. 14, the DLNR stated it had removed the trampoline, after it was brought to their attention:
“DLNR has responded to a report and removed a trampoline that was erected without authorization on state unencumbered lands at Laie. Notice will be posted to whomever erected the trampoline that they may claim the item, subject to payment of fees, within a certain period of time before it is disposed of,” DLNR communications specialist Deborah Ward wrote in a message to Ho‘a O‘ahu. But then the trampoline reappeared.
On site, Sheila Zaugg watched from the shore as her sons enjoyed the trampoline on Pounders Beach, as they jumped up and down and then into the water.
“Of course it’s the ocean so you’re always concerned,” she said. “But you know, there were several adults out there, and I think they seemed OK. They were having fun.”
“It just looks really fun and like exhilarating,” said Ethan Maitland, a visitor from Australia. “I was a little bit scared I might hit the ground but I just thought I would regret it if I didn’t do it.”
The trampoline sits in the middle of the water, a far cry from the traditional beach experience. It is also an alarming safety hazard given the shallow waters and surrounding coral.
“If it's safety concerns, and they see that it's not fit for children or the community to be on there, then you know, there's not much that we can do,” Zaugg said.
Before its removal, the trampoline served as a tourist attraction for visitors to the islands.
“My cousins are visiting from San Diego, so I wanted to show them the trampoline, because I came here, and it wasn’t up here before,” another beach visitor, Jovette Gamban, said.
The trampoline was put up by Sam Wasson, acknowledged Lydell Lawrence, who described himself as a friend of Wasson's. Wasson was not able to be reached for comment.
“My friend Sam, he told me like three weeks ago, that he put up the trampoline, so I should check it out,” Lawrence said. “So my wife and I and my daughter, we just came out today. … I thought it was just like a hammock-looking thing. I didn't think it was like this, really sturdy and well put together. So I'm really impressed. It's really cool.”
Like other popular (but illegal) O’ahu attractions, such as the "Stairway to Heaven" and the "Dead Man’s Cat Walk," the trampoline has gained a cult following.
It’s not every day that one gets to enjoy a bouncy object in the middle of the ocean. And now, it seems as though it won’t be available for anyone’s enjoyment. Or will it?
“It was good while it lasted,” Lawrence said. “I'm fine with it, if that's how things work. You put things up, and other people tell you ‘you can't do that,’ so I understand both ways.”
Update Dec. 8, 2016:
After the Department of Land and Natural resources reported that they had removed the illegal trampoline at Laie Beach Park, there were reports by the local community that the trampoline was still up.
Ho‘a O‘ahu reporter Danielle Vallejo contacted DNLR communications specialist Deborah Ward again, in order to find out if the removal really took place.
“We did take the trampoline down, but somebody rebuilt as soon as we took it down,” Ward said in a phone call with Vallejo, “We don’t know who did it, when or how, but they rebuilt it.”
According to Ward, DNLR officially took down the trampoline on Oct. 11. A week later, DNLR received a report that the trampoline was rebuilt. DNLR staff went back to Laie and found that there was a new trampoline.
The trampoline stands on old pier posts, and according to the Office of Environmental Quality Control, the removal of the entire structure would require the states approval.
After learning this, Vallejo asked Ward if DNLR had plans to completely dismantle the posts and how much tax-payer money would go into it, but Ward declined to answer those questions.
After several calls and emails, Ward agreed to only answer such questions through email.
In that email, Ward said that removal of the old pier posts is the best option to keep the trampoline from being rebuilt in the future.
“Removing the pier posts will require contractor handing,” Ward wrote. “There is no funding for this removal at this time.”
Ward did not give an estimate as to how much the removal would cost or say who would pay that bill.
With that being said, she acknowledged, there is nothing DNLR can do to prevent the rebuilding of any future trampolines as long as those posts are intact.
According to Ward, the permanency of the trampoline raises concerns for DNLR because it invites the public to jump into shallow water, which puts them at risk for injury.
As Vallejo continued to press the matter, Ward insisted that DNLR already had spent significant time researching this issue and will no longer answer any follow-up questions.
“You are just a student,” Ward said on the phone with Vallejo, “You take what we give you, and that’s that.”