Trees OK’d

The Kaua‘i County Council Wednesday approved a $140,000 donation from The Friends of Kamalani and Lyd-gate Park to plant shade trees at three sports fields at Lyd-gate Park in Wailua.

But the donation met with initial resistance from Councilwoman Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho during the council meeting midweek at the historic Country Building.

She relented after councilman Jay Furfaro offered his perspective that the trees could be pruned every two years by county work crews.

Still, Iseri-Carvalho wanted to know whether the administration would take on the task if volunteers with Friends chose not to care for the trees at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Sports Park after five years.

The trees are intended to provide shelter for parents and youths during sporting events at Lydgate Park, a county facility that offers recreational opportunities for Kawaihau District, the largest population area on the island.

“(The tree-planting project) is one step toward making Lydgate Park a more inviting county facility,” Thomas Noyes, general coordinator for Friends, said after the meeting.

Of the $120,000 donation, a majority of the $40,000 came from the Kaulunani program of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, through which urban forests are maintained.

Of the $40,000, nearly $17,000 will be used for buying trees, and another $3,700 will be paid to the YWCA to manage the sport fields, Noyes said.

The other $80,000 represents in-kind services of volunteers who will maintain the trees, which are to be planted on the perimeter of the each sport field.

Planting will start with a central field, followed by work at a southern field and work at a northern field, Noyes said.

Friends’ volunteers are committed to taking care of the trees for the next five years only, Noyes said.

“Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park put forward this proposal,” he said. “I would not be comfortable committing the organization beyond the five-year period.”

Iseri-Carvalho said she wanted a commitment by the county administration to care for the trees should Friends cease caring for them after five years.

Councilman Tim Bynum, who helped develop the regional park years ago before he won a seat on the council last year, said volunteers with Friends have trimmed trees around Lydgate Park for 13 years, and like Furfaro, hopes the county can do the job when Friends’ commitment is over.

As part of its donation to the tree-planting project, Kauai Nursery and Landscaping will design the irrigation system and develop a planting plan at a cost of $1,200, while the National Tropical Botanical Garden will donate trees valued at $1,935.

Owners at the Kaha Lani condominium in Wailua also have donated $10,000, Noyes said. Alexander & Baldwin and Starbucks also will make contributions.

Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said that she likes the collaborative spirit of the project and offered to thank those “who put it together.”

Through an application he wrote years before he was elected to the board last year, Bynum applied for a $850,000 grant from the Harry and Jeanette Weinburg Foundation to build the three sport fields.

Because of increased construction costs, the council appropriated another $450,000 to complete the work.

Through a county contract, Earthworks Pacific graded the fields and has begun trucking soil additives to the fields, Noyes said.

The work is being inspected by Ed Okamoto, who oversees the Wailua Golf Course.

The planting of the trees will start after Earthworks Ali‘i Landscaping installs an underground irrigation system for the sports fields, Noyes said.

The system will draw effluent from the irrigation system at the golf course, which receives effluent from the county’s wastewater treatment plant at Wailua.

Councilman Mel Rapozo said he and others have voiced concerns about irrigating the sports fields with effluent.

Irrigating the golf course with effluent is one thing, but irrigating sport fields with the same liquid where “kids would be rolling in the water” is another matter, he said.

He said he is still waiting for answers to his queries. “We were assured it was safe,” he said. “I just want to see the back-up data.”

Furfaro said correspondence should be sent to Public Works official Ed Renaud, “who has a firm understanding of this R-2 (effluent) water.”

Noyes said the Department of Health approved the use of the effluent and the irrigation system.

The soccer-size, regulation sport fields can be used for soccer, football and open field sporting activities, Noyes said.

• Lester Chang, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or lchang@kauaipubco.com.

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