Poamoho residents
will get eviction note

Del Monte intends to raze old
dwellings housing 60 families

The residents of Poamoho Camp will receive 120-day notices to vacate their plantation homes this month, said Richard Contreras, a Del Monte Fresh Produce (Hawaii) official.

Del Monte's lease on 2,200 acres of agricultural land outside Wahiawa, which includes the camp, expires June 30, and the company does not intend to renew it because, Contreras said, the variety of pineapple grown there "is not what the customers are demanding.

"We had a longer-range plan to get out of that variety," said Contreras, vice president of budgeting and forecasting, but the company decided to accelerate the move to a sweeter variety it developed, Del Monte Gold.

Poamoho Camp is home to 60 families totaling about 300 people. Most of the residents are Del Monte employees. The rest are retirees.

All workers in Poamoho will work at Kunia, where the company is already growing Del Monte Gold pineapples, Contreras said.

"There's a shortage of workers. We need to grow; we need to make it profitable," he said.

State law requires 120-day notice in evictions from structures that will be demolished. Del Monte needs to raze the camp before it returns the property to landowner George Galbraith Trust.

Del Monte notified its employee union, Local 142 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, of its intention not to renew its lease last month. Since then the residents, union and area lawmakers have been looking for a way for the residents to remain in Poamoho at least until 2007, when the Galbraith Trust is scheduled to be dissolved.

"I think we have to move fast," said Vaeleti Tyrell, Poamoho Community Association president.

Contreras said Del Monte has every intention of helping the residents of the camp.

"We really like to sit down with the company and try to get an extension," Tyrell said.

But he said Del Monte has yet to agree to sit down and talk with the residents.

Tyrell, a Del Monte retiree, asked Galbraith trustee Bank of Hawaii if it were possible for the community association to continue to pay rent on the camp property after Del Monte leaves, but has yet to receive a reply. The Kukaniloko Birthstone State Monument sits on five acres of the Galbraith Trust lands.


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