WAIPOULI — Red paint on ironwood trees along Kauai’s Eastside Waipouli coastline is marking the way for a new beach area and eventual coastal path for the up-and-coming Coconut Beach Resort.
And while the County of Kauai says the developer, SPD II Makaiwa Resort Development LLC, has the proper permits, some Kauai residents are concerned with the removal project.
“Not only do the beachfront ironwoods constitute an important part of the beauty of this scenic coastline, but they also help stabilize the beach and prevent damage to the coastal berm,” said Rayne Regush, who is on the executive committee of the Sierra Club Kauai Group.
Regush says the trees facing impending removal are within a public access area secured by Sierra Club Kauai Group in November. The group is asking the work be stopped and a beach management plan prepared.
She points out a well-used footpath runs through the ironwoods along the coast and the removal of the trees will “dramatically alter the natural setting and fishers will be impacted by loss of shade.”
Mitch Heller, manager of SPD II Makaiwa Resort Development LLC, confirmed Tuesday the planned removal of the trees on the property, with a plan to create a walkway in the area that will eventually connect with the Ke Ala Hele Makalae coastal path.
“We have worked in close contact with the County of Kauai on our plans, including removal of trees on our property,” Heller said.
He continued: “We are (also) consulting with statewide executives at The Outdoor Circle and other environmental experts on our overall landscaping plan, which emphasizes planting native species, and adding more than 1,000 trees and palms to the property.”
Tuesday, the county confirmed the developer has the proper county permits necessary to proceed with its project.
Coconut Beach Resort is a 343-unit timeshare with six hotel rooms included in the plan. Landscaping is also included, with an emphasis on native species and more than 1,000 trees and palms on the books for the property.
The ironwoods, for the developers, are a safety hazard and are in the way of the walkway project.
“Our arborist has informed us that many of these ironwood trees are diseased and dying, and has recommended their removal to create a safe, open and accessible beach area for everyone to enjoy,” Heller said.
There hasn’t been a timeline provided on when the ironwoods are to be cut down, but many are marked for removal from the north and central portion of the property.
Concerned citizens with Sierra Club Kauai Group say that the 2014 certified arborist’s report identified only 17 unhealthy or unsafe ironwood trees for removal.
“Now there are dozens of trees on the chopping block,” said Judy Dalton, co-chair of the Sierra Club Kauai Group.
She continued: “The developer should be fostering the health of the existing trees and shrubs makai and mauka of the shoreline. Habitat restoration is not the developer’s priority. It’s about clearing the view plain.”
Heller has a different view on the project, and says the LLC is making all the steps to complete the project and be an asset to Kauai.
“By managing our project with utmost care and respect and running a successful, generous business thereafter, SPD II Makaiwa intends to be a positive, long-term contributor to the Kauai economy and community,” he said.
Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.