BY HAWKINS BIGGINS OF EAST OAHU SUN – In the new year of 2012, Hawaii Kai will be experiencing both paving and planting. Lunalilo Home Road and areas of Mariners Cove were recently approved for repaving.
The Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) of the City and County of Honolulu coupled the imminent roadwork with a beautification project for the area. Hundreds of trees are going to be removed and replaced with a different species. Concerned residents have asked the City to explain this project further in order to gain a better understanding.
According to the City, the first phase of the project will include repaving Lunalilo Home Road, once repaving is complete replanting can commence. The second phase continues the same process in the Mariners Cove area. At this point, a time frame for the entire project remains unknown, pending bids and awarded contracts from the City, however, the work is slated to begin in 2012.
Stan Oka, Urban Forestry Administrator at the DPR shared the thought process behind the project. “Some of the trees along the road are lifting up the road and sidewalk. An arborist determined that the trees have outgrown their space as well as suffered decay over the years. Working together with a landscape architect, we came up with planting plans to replant species better suited to the dry windy environment.”
The majority of the trees that are going to be replaced are Royal Poinciana’s and Shower Tree’s. “We spent a long time thinking about what hardy species would survive in windy dry areas. There are different growing zones along Lunalilo, the central part being particularly windy and dry and the beginning and end a little more protected.” Oka explained. The City’s plans include planting up to three species in different areas according to the amount of space, moisture and wind conditions.
There are positive and negative viewpoints about this project. One of the issues in the area is reducing the amount of run off into Maunalua Bay. Oka spoke with Malama Maunalua about this issue and mentioned one of the positive outcomes of replanting by saying, “ One of the benefits of the trees is that the species we are looking at will help reduce the amount of storm run off.”
Community Activist Natalie Iwasa expressed her concern about the project. “Other projects, like the lights along Lunalilo Home Road, have languished, and don’t seem to get done in a timely manner. I would hate to have this project drag on. What if they cut down the trees and we are left with no trees and ripped out sidewalks?”
According to Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Chair, Greg Knudsen, the City has been considerate of the community during this process. “The City was very forthright in approaching the Neighborhood Board in order to present their plans to inform the community well in advance of the work. They did the right thing to reach out and let people know what they were planning.”
Iwasa approached the City and was given a list of 259 trees in the area that will be affected by this project. She shared her apprehension, “They are removing quite a number of trees so some of us are concerned. It is not clear how the arborists determined which trees needed repair and removal. Personally I am going to be disappointed if all of those trees are taken down, they have lovely flowers every year and it will change the feeling of the whole area.”
In order to address these concerns, Mariners Cove board member Elizabeth Reilly together with Livable Hawaii Kai Hui has organized a meeting for Mariners Cove and Lunalilio Home Road residents to meet with the City in order to ask pertinent questions and learn more about this planned project. The meeting is open to residents and is going to be held at 6:30pm (the presentation starts at 7 pm) Monday, January 23, 2012 at the Mariner’s Cove Clubhouse at 800 Lunalilo Home Road.
The upcoming meeting encourages Iwasa. “Hopefully the city will share more about the process they used to determine why they are removing some of those trees.” Reilly has asked the City that if any tree that is removed should need a home, she would like the opportunity to find it a home in Kamilonui Valley.
While Knudsen and the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board can understand questions for clarification that the community may have, they are overall supportive of the project. He stated, “It appears to me that the City has done a professional job assessing the project. This is something that is needed.”