Tuesday, June 11, 2002

City & County of Honolulu

City hires curator for plants
at Waimea Falls Park

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

The city has issued a contract for a curator at Waimea Falls Park, easing tensions between the city and conservationists worried about endangered plants at the site.

David Orr, who has been the director of the Waimea Arboretum and Botanical Garden, has been hired on a six-month, personal services contract.

The nonprofit Waimea Arboretum Foundation laid off four paid employees last month, including Orr, because it lost funding that had been provided by a private donor.

It urged either the city or Waimea Management LLC, interim managers of the park, to pick up the cost for the staff that does the research and documentation of rare and endangered plants.

City officials said yesterday they have been working to hire Orr since last month.

"We're finalizing the contract right now," city spokeswoman Carol Costa said.

Orr, who will report to Parks Director Bill Balfour, will be paid about $3,500 a month, Costa said. His main job will be "to oversee the botanical collection" at the 1,875-acre park.

Blake McElheny, foundation secretary, called Orr's hire a "good first step" toward ensuring that species that are found only in Waimea Valley survive.

"The thing that makes a botanical garden unique is that each and every plant is thoroughly documented," McElheny said. "Documentation, proper care and ongoing propagation -- that's why a nursery is so important."

The interim contract with Waimea Management is supposed to run through the end of the year.

City & County of Honolulu

E-mail to City Desk


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