Monkeypod trees survive widely suspected removal date

KOLOA — The trees are still there.

There was no indication yesterday that the monkeypod trees in Koloa town would be removed — this in spite of a widely suspected Jan. 2 deadline that had been printed on posters and fliers for weeks.

The developer of The Shops at Koloa has stated that 30 big trees will be removed due to disease and to make room for the shopping center on the mauka side of Koloa Road. A time line of when that work might take place has not yet been made public.

Protestors say the trees are more than a half-century old, but Stacey Wong of the trust says they’re more like 40 years old and there’s nothing historic about them. He plans to replace the trees with more appealing landscaping.

Yesterday a lone individual armed with a camera wandered in the area yesterday where the future shopping area is scheduled to be built, stopping to photograph trees in no orderly manner.

One of the leaders of the Save Koloa Town’s Historic Monkeypod Trees who chose not to be identified said a representative from the developer will be meeting with community and county representatives to discuss the trees. That meeting is scheduled to take place within the next week, the anonymous representative said, and Louie Abrams, president of the Koloa Community Association, should have some comments once the meeting takes place.

Until then, the trees will continue to stand in their current location.

Maureen Murphy, a certified arborist and president of The Kaua‘i Outdoor Circle, states in a flier posted on shop windows that according to the developer’s arborist, 22 of the 30 trees will be removed or relocated, including all of those along Maluhia and Koloa roads.

Murphy states that monkeypod trees can live to be upwards of 170 years in age, and some of the trees in the development area are more than 50 years old.

As for the trees to be relocated, survival for many is questionable due to their large size. Those that survive will need many years of structural pruning to regain their beautiful monkeypod shape, she said.

A handful of monkeypod tree supporters stood vigil on the side of Koloa Road, their stand interrupted by a visit from more than a dozen journalism students from Island School.

“I wanted to have the students to have experience in reporting an issue they have strong feelings for,” said Robin Worley, the class instructor. “They were not to protest — just report.”

One of the students clearly showed his frustration at the situation, noting that he was disappointed that neither police nor representatives from the developer were present.

Worley said only one student, who had study hall, was allowed to join the tree supporters because she was not part of the journalism class.

During the morning stay, the students spent their time interviewing the supporters who were present while other members of the class set out to get photographs of both the vigil as well as the trees in their present locations.

As the students took their leave from the scene, the monkeypod tree friends continued their vigil, acknowledging the many honks of support from passing motorists.

The trees just basked in the sun, waiting.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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