BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – Hawaii Kai, an upper-middle class community in East Oahu bordered by a spectacular turquoise ocean and stunning emerald mountains and valleys, is built around a private marina that spans from the valley to the ocean.

Owners of the estimated 2,800 homes built on the marina must join the Hawaii Kai Marina Association and pay dues for upkeep of the marina.

Late last week, those 2,800 members received a 5-page letter detailing a dispute between Steve Carr, its former board president, and the Marina board, over his alleged misuse of association property and finances.

No one would go on the record, but those interviewed on background say it is a disagreement that has split the board of directors, angered its members and may soon lead to legal action because of Carr’s refusal to leave the board altogether.

Management of the Marina association would not respond to media inquiries from Hawaii Reporter. Efforts to contact Carr through the Marina office were denied by office management. Carr’s home phone automatically disconnected all calls after two rings, and he could not be reached for comment through a fellow board member who passed on the message that Hawaii Reporter is attempting to contact him.

But the marina letter, signed by current president Robert E. Clark and distributed to all households on the marina, details an internal fight that quietly began in July 2008 and climaxed in the end of 2010, with association members finally learning in recent days about the details of the fiery, long running disagreement that ultimately impacts their pocketbooks.

The story outlined in the report said Carr, over a period of several months, took two engines from marina patrol boats that were supposedly damaged and put them on his own boat, which he was seen operating in the marina.

In addition, Carr, who has his own boat repair business, ordered replacement engines at a cost of nearly $20,000 to marina members even though the other engines could be repaired for much less money.

The letter says he billed the marina association for removing the old engines and installing the new ones – but did not seek board approval for either the $20,000 expenditure or hiring himself for the job.

Board members also believed that Carr would attempt to sell the engines – and he told the Board that he put advertisements on Craig’s List – but that was a year after the engines had been removed from the marina boats. The original engines were never sold, even though interested parties did contact the marina office to purchase them for as much as $6,500 for both motors.

In November 2010, during a heated executive closed-door session when his actions came under scrutiny for his financial management of board finances and property, Carr resigned as president of the Association. However, he remains as a voting board member.

Supporters of Carr on the board allowed him to purchase the engines on December 31, 2010, for $2,392 without any consequences for using the motors on his own boats, assigning himself the job of repairing them or purchasing the engines without board permission.

Carr supporters say these were just paperwork issues, and Carr has done nothing wrong. They say he was ill over a two-year when all this occurred and can’t be held responsible for the misunderstanding.

But many in the association and remaining on the board want Carr of the board of directors so he no longer has any say into what happens with their dues, property or management of the marina.

The issue is likely to go to court, one member told Hawaii Reporter, unless Carr voluntarily resigns.

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