Tree-planting Highlights Resort Agreement
Though small in symbolic terms, the new hala tree at Kawela Bay represents the end of a long struggle to free up hundreds of acres of shoreline for preservation, forever.
Though much remains to be done — convention center refinancing, fundraising, underwriting bonds, and appraising the 665.8acre conservation easement — House Bill 2434 becomes the law of the land July 1.
“It accounts for so many diverse voices in its fulfillment,” said Turtle Bay Resort CEO Drew Stotesbury of the easement, “from our top leaders in government to the kupuna and lifelong Koolauloa residents, all of whom only want what’s best for the North Shore and its future generations.” Through the complex negotiation process, he noted, the resort has agreed to reduce its hotel and housing plans to 20 percent of its original permit, though the job outlook for local residents remains good.
The state will buy the easement for $48.5 million with help from the city and The Trust for Public Land.
The indigenous hala tree, ideal for stabilizing sandy soil, was planted May 19 by six key players in the process, who also signed the bill that day at the idyllic bay site: Gov. Neil Abercrombie, state Sen. Clayton Hee (Heeia, Laie, Waialua), TPL’s Lea Hong, city chief of staff Ray Soon, Doug Cole of North Shore Community Land Trust, and Stotesbury. North Shore music and a blessing rounded out the program.
Following the official signing of HB 2434 (Act 81, to preserve permanently 665.8 acres of Turtle Bay property from development), a hala tree was planted May 19 at Kawela Bay by (from right) Gov. Neil Abercrombie, state Sen. Clayton Hee, city chief of staff Ray Soon, Lea Hong of The Trust for Public Land, Doug Cole of North Shore Community Land Trust, and Turtle Bay Resort CEO Drew Stotesbury. Similar hala tree plantings took place at Kahuku Point to create a symbolic connection between the resort’s open lands. Photo from Turtle Bay Resort.