Sunday, June 13, 2004

Poamoho Camp residents Rizal Tungpalan, Jacinto Dagan, Willy Tasani and Junior Latay prepared the meat for the celebration yesterday. The residents had been facing eviction until a deal was reached to preserve the plantation-era homes.

Poamoho celebrates
end to fear of eviction

Camp residents thank the
community and developer Peter Savio

Instead of bulldozers and empty houses, there was a party yesterday at Poamoho Camp where residents celebrated a deal that will preserve not only their homes, but a way of life.

The residents, mostly pineapple plantation workers and retirees, were told they would be evicted from their homes on June 9 because Del Monte Fresh Produce, which held the lease to the land under their homes, was giving it back to the landowner. But thanks to developer Peter Savio, a deal was reached to allow the community to survive.

"I think I'm going to shed some tears -- tears of happiness," said Vaeleti Tyrell, Poamoho Community Association president. "The only words I can say are 'thank you, thank you, thank you.' "

Tracy Takano, International Longshore and Warehouse Union representative, credits the victory to the residents.

"Because of the strength and determination of the residents, we are in here celebrating and not out there facing the bulldozers," he said.

The celebration, organized by the 300 residents of Poamoho Camp, was held to thank Savio, community leaders, and union officials who helped save the 63 homes in the neighborhood.

Residents roasted a side of beef and chickens and put out platters of pupus. Tyrell's relatives played Hawaiian music and danced hula.

Other residents waved signs on Kamehameha Highway that said, "Poamoho, Home Sweet Home" and "Savio, Savio, he's our man, he's the man who saved our land."

"This is what I do," Savio said. "I help people get affordable housing ... This is the community service side of the company."

Poamoho residents also thanked state and city officials who helped raise awareness of the eviction in the community.

"This is the happiest day of my legislation career," said Marcus Oshiro, (D-Wahiawa). "Poamoho should be preserved ... It's important to maintain this community that cannot be found anywhere else."

Families have raised grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the camp.

"I cannot imagine life without Poamoho," said Haunani Tyrell, who brings her children back to play in the place where she grew up. "We come back every day. We can't stay away from Poamoho."

The community is the kind of place where families leave their doors unlocked and children leave their toys outside with no fear of theft, said Erasmus Patacsil.

The camp, just north of Wahiawa, is one of the two pineapple plantation villages left on Oahu; the other is in Kunia. Savio, of Hawaiian Island Homes Ltd., will acquire the lease from landowner George Galbraith Estate. The lease is for 90 acres of land, which includes the 34-acre camp.

Savio said the land is being appraised and expects residents will be able to buy the land by Oct. 31. He said he will find another buyer for the other 60 acres of land. Until then, Maui Land & Pineapple Co. will maintain the land where fruit is grown.

"We're just going to stay here for the rest of our lives," Junior Natey, 57, said. "I love Poamoho."


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