LOCAL GROUP GIVES FALLS OF CLYDE ANOTHER CHANCE
Bishop Museum is close to an agreement with the Friends of the Falls of Clyde to transfer the National Historic Landmark and give it another opportunity for survival. An agreement could be approved by September 25.
The preservation and restoration needs for the 128-year old ship have exceeded the Museum’s financial capacity. Since February, the Museum has sought another steward to take ownership and financial responsibility for the ship. Bishop Museum announced that it would tow the Falls of Clyde to deep water and scuttle it, unless a new owner came forward with the ability to provide liability insurance, transfer the vessel to dry dock and plan for its preservation.
In August 2008, a local group of maritime preservationists formed a new organization, called the Friends of Falls of Clyde, which began negotiations with the Museum. The two entities are close to an agreement for the transfer of ownership and liability. The organizations are also working with the State Harbors Division of the Department of Transportation to allow the ship to remain at its existing mooring in Honolulu Harbor until the dry dock becomes available in early December.
The plan to tow and scuttle the ship in early August 2008 was delayed while the negotiations continued and also to allow time for the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct consultation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act related to the permit application to sink the vessel.
Historic Hawai‘i Foundation’s involvement as a consulting party to the Section 106 process helped ensure that the EPA and Coast Guard were taking the historic nature of the ship into account when reviewing and approving permits. The federal agencies are required by law to consult with interested parties and to develop a mitigation package in recognition of the impacts to the national landmark.
The Section 106 process helped to extend the time available for the Friends group to become organized and to engage the Museum in transfer discussions. The consultation process is expected to conclude in September, at which time permits for the tow and sink would be issued. However, if the transfer agreement is successful, those permits will not be used.
Although the transfer to the Friends of Falls of Clyde will provide a new opportunity for preserving the ship, that change alone will not save it. The Friends need to raise funds for the dry dock, stabilization work, restoration, and new location for the vessel. The timeline remains tight, as it needs to be moved from Honolulu Harbor by early December, pending approval from DOT to stay at its existing mooring until then. Its long-term fate remains uncertain, but it has another chance.
More about the Falls of Clyde
Editorial Note: Because Tim Johns is both president of Bishop Museum and president of HHF’s board of trustees, he has disclosed his conflict of interest and has recused himself from any HHF involvement in the matter. All of HHF’s actions are being handled by Historic Hawai‘i Foundation’s Executive Director Kiersten Faulkner and the staff at the administrative level and Mr. Johns does not participate or vote on any of the related issues. Mr. Johns’ position on the board does not impact the role that HHF takes in responding to the situation. HHF strives to have full transparency and disclosure on its activities.
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