Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Compromise found
on trees at Kalaeloa

The Kalaeloa trees are saved, thanks to the Outdoor Circle and intervention by U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye's office.

"I'm sorry that we've already lost some trees -- they died before we were able to come up with this agreement with the Navy," said Mary Steiner, chief executive officer of the Outdoor Circle. "But we are pleased that the Navy has reversed its position and will do the right thing."

The Navy has decided to use federal fire crews to water the trees as part of "live fire hose drills," according to a letter Alexis Lum, Inouye's executive assistant in Honolulu, sent to Steiner this week.

A Navy spokeswoman confirmed the decision yesterday.

In the Nov. 24 "Kokua Line," a reader asked if there was anything that could be done to save "several large beautiful trees" that had died or were dying at the former Barbers Point Naval Air Station (now Kalaeloa).

The base closed in 1999, and the area is in transition to state, city and private owners, although the Navy continues to retain 1,600 acres, including the area where the trees are located.

The problem is that there are no sprinklers in that area. In November, Navy officials told "Kokua Line" that because of costs and because the trees are in an area that is up for sale, there were no plans for watering to keep them alive. At that time, however, they did agree to meet with the Outdoor Circle, which wanted to find some way to save the trees.

The Outdoor Circle met with Navy representatives on Jan. 7, but Steiner said they took "a hard-line position" that nothing would be done, other than to give volunteers access to the area and "put a water meter on a fire hydrant and charge us for the water."

The Outdoor Circle then wrote to Inouye, pleading for his help in a letter noting that more than 40 historic trees, 60 to 80 years old, including monkeypods, tulip trees and royal palms, "are dying because the Navy refuses to water them."

In his letter to Steiner dated last Monday, Lum said Rear Adm. Conway, commander of Navy Region Hawaii, informed him that morning that a temporary solution had been found.

"It was decided the fire crews located at Barbers Point that are required to do frequent training could take on the task of watering the stressed trees," Lum said.

"The Federal Fire Department has agreed to conduct any required training to locations that would best serve those trees, and it won't add additional cost for the water used," Navy spokeswoman Agnes Tauyan confirmed.

"Other trees that are not on Navy property will need to be addressed by others in the community."

All parties involved said they were pleased with the interim "win-win" situation. Steiner said the temporary solution would be in place until the Navy sells the property.


To crosswalk pedestrians, especially in downtown Honolulu, who disregard traffic signals and begin crossing even though the light is clearly red and traffic is coming. I can understand the elderly and disabled, who need more time, and children, who are unpredictable, but not those smart and agile enough to know better. Please kokua. -- No Name


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