‘We saved the tree’

KAPAA — When Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. arrived for the dedication of the Moanakai seawall project, the scene that greeted him forced his first words Friday morning near the Fuji Beach.

“They saved the tree!” Carvalho said. “Look at it. Can you believe it? They saved the tree.”

Carvalho was joined by representatives of the contractor, Earthworks Pacific, and collaborative partners in dedicating the completion of the Moanakai seawall project which fronts Moanakai Road leading to Fuji Park.

The project, which added an improved seawall and improvements to Moanakai Road, was led by Jeff Fisher and Earthworks Pacific.

“This was a challenging, but fun project,” Fisher said. “We had a mother seal watching us, daily. Whenever you have rock work and water, it’s challenging. It actually turned out well, and we’re going to have it nominated for a General Contractors Assocation award.”

Fisher said the project finished at nearly $1.5 million, below the $1.7 million budgeted, and ahead of schedule, including saving the tree which he credited to McCune.

“When we were here for the groundbreaking, there was a lady who passed by and talking to herself,” said Rev. Jade Wai‘ale‘ale Battad of Ke Akua Mana Church. “‘Ya-ya-ya’ she said about losing the tree. Doug Haigh of the county said ‘I like the tree.’ Bill McCune said ‘I can save the tree,’ and the mayor said, ‘Save the tree!’”

McCune said the process was not that hard to do.

“The tree really played right into the project,” he said. “We adjusted some of the rocks to match the new grade, and the tree just played right in. We used some of the leftover boulders so people who use the park have places to sit, and the big log? Well, that was a gift — it just came in with the ocean.”

Wai‘ale‘ale Battad, in officiating the blessing, said she kept the conservation theme alive, using ti leaf lei in lieu of maile, thereby helping to save the Koke‘e forests.

“I am so happy to see the naupaka,” the reverend said. “This area, Fuji Beach, is very popular with children playing in the water, reef fishermen on the reef throughout the day, and ‘oama fishermen in the pool area during season. We used to use naupaka to clear our goggles, and it warms my heart to see it return.”

Bill McCune was the project superintendent, Pat Kaihara of the county was construction manager and Oceanit handled construction observation.

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