Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

The dying trees fronting Building 972 at the former Barbers Point Naval Air Station have not been watered due to costs and because they are in an area up for sale. The Navy has agreed to meet with the Outdoor Circle discuss a solution to the situation.

Volunteers may save
Kalaeloa’s thirsty trees

Question: After the military returned large areas of the Barbers Point military base to the Hawaii government, the trees along Roosevelt Avenue and Philippine Sea Drive had the sprinkler system turned off. This has resulted in many of the large beautiful trees dying. There are still some trees that could be saved but someone needs to turn the sprinkler system back on. Attempts to contact both the state and the military have resulted in each denying ownership of the land, with someone at the state telling me they had too many areas to look after anyway and the military stating that when the trees died they would cut them down. Surely with our plant-a-tree program, and our focus on beautifying Hawaii someone can do something to save fully grown trees that just need watering?

Answer: It appears that the trees fronting Building 972 along Roosevelt Avenue at the former Barbers Point Naval Air Station may be victims of an area in transition.

The trees are on Navy-retained property, where there are no sprinklers. Because of costs and because the trees are in an area up for sale, they are not being watered and are dying, confirmed Navy Region Hawaii spokeswoman Agnes Tauyan.

Their conditions will be evaluated and the plan is for those that "are a hazard will be removed," she said.

However, on Friday, the Navy agreed to meet with the Outdoor Circle to discuss whether there is a "viable solution" to the situation, Tauyan said.

Although the naval base was shut down in 1999, the Navy retains control of about 1,600 acres. Before the base closed, the trees were irrigated by a grounds maintenance contractor using a portable water cannon.

"The volume of water that a large tree requires is significant," Tauyan said. "The tag-on problem is that grass and weeds would grow in the irrigated areas, which then requires further grounds maintenance."

Because of that, the trees are not being watered. Any trees still standing will become the responsibility of whoever takes over the area, now known as Kalaeloa.

"We're devastated that these mature trees will die and hope that the attention Kokua Line brings will encourage the Navy to act," Mary Steiner, chief executive officer of the Outdoor Circle, said when asked about the situation on Friday.

Steiner subsequently called Navy officials to see if the trees could be saved.

Jan Yokota, executive director of the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which assumed oversight of Kalaeloa in July, said the only trees that are being maintained are the Norfolk pines at the front gate and along Roosevelt Road.

The National Guard, at the request of the former Barbers Point NAS Redevelopment Commission, voluntarily has been maintaining those trees since January and "they appear to be healthy," she said.

Steiner said the Outdoor Circle became concerned about dead and dying trees at Kalaeloa back in January. Initially, like you, the group found that "nobody would take responsibility for the trees -- not the military, not the state, not the city."

However, Steiner said that in response to a letter from the Outdoor Circle, Bill Bass, of the former Barbers Point Naval Air Station Redevelopment Commission, sent a letter dated Jan. 28, 2002, saying, "The commission shares your concerns and in view of the absence of funding, will seek volunteers to water and tend the various areas."

In the letter, he said the National Guard had volunteered to water and tend to the median strip on Enterprise Avenue, where there are several tall Norfolk pines, while other volunteers were being solicited for other areas.

Several roadways, including those now being tended to, are to be transferred to the state Department of Transportation and the City and County of Honolulu, and the expectation is that they will then take over maintenance.

The redevelopment commission handed over jurisdiction of Kalaeloa to Yokota's agency in July.

Meanwhile, the city Parks Department has not yet gotten jurisdiction of any trees in Barbers Point, said Carol Costa, director of the city Department of Customer Services. The city is to assume responsibility for 11 roads at Kalaeloa totaling seven miles.

According to Yokota, the entire area directly to the south of Roosevelt Road between the Honouliuli wastewater treatment facility and West Perimeter Road, with the exception of Barbers Point Elementary, is Navy-retained property.

Tauyan said the Navy is negotiating with Fluor Hawaii, LLC, to enter into a master development agreement for Ford Island, and it includes agreements for the sale of various properties at Barbers Point, including the property in front of Building 972.

Nothing has been finalized. Tauyan said improvements at Ford Island will result, in part, from the sale of Navy property at Barbers Point.

Q: I recently purchased a poster that consists of five pigs' butts and the legend: "Plenty Kau Kau plenty Inu and lotsa Kani Ka Pila. So make holoholo to da best Railing's Luau ever. Da 4th Annual. November 4, 2:30 p.m. til weneva. No forget, take Halawa Valley exit pass Quarantine Station, follow sign up dirt road." Since this was the "4th annual," they must have been around. I asked some hula friends but they never worked there. It could be a family affair but I could not find any Railings in the phone book. The art work is actually quite good. Does anyone have any information about the luau?

A: Readers, perhaps you can help Arnold Van Fossen solve the mystery of his poster. If so, please write to him at P.O. Box 159244, Honolulu, HI 96830. Or you can leave a message with Kokua Line at 529-4773. We'll have a follow-up if there is one.


Useful phone numbers

Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
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