Some 18,771 people have signed an online petition (as of publication) calling on Alexander & Baldwin (A&B) to preserve a collection of mature monkeypod trees scattered throughout the parking lot of Manoa’s primary shopping center. None of the trees is diseased and none is a danger to the public. A&B owns the land under the shopping center and had announced plans to remove the trees to redevelop the parking lot at a Manoa Neighborhood Board meeting.
After the petition was created, news of A&B’s proposal spread quickly and the public has overwhelmingly supported preserving the trees. As members of the Manoa board pointed out, the parking lot is rarely ever full, and the trees are a part of the iconic makeup of the Manoa valley marketplace. Members of the community have weighed in, commenting on the petition site and asking A&B to leave the trees alone.
“I live in Mānoa and shop almost daily at Mānoa Marketplace,said Eugene Vricella. “The giant monkeypod trees are the only element that gives this rather outdated strip mall any character at all. A&B, you would be crazy to remove them especially because it would alienate your clientele.”
“Those trees provide fresh air and much needed shade within that parking lot. They have been there as long as I can remember,” said James Morel.
“These beautiful trees are one of the most desirable things about Manoa Marketplace. The gracious ambiance of these trees is well loved by everyone in the community,” said Cheri Vasek. “Please preserve them.”
“It’s important to preserve the beauty of the tree,” said Susan Yamamoto. “The greenery cools and protects us. We need more trees, not more asphalt.”
“I am concerned that my need for a parking space would mean cutting down one tree, never mind removing several,“said Sharon Galisa. “It is the trees and non-commercial environment that make shopping here so appealing. I will no longer shop at Manoa mall if the trees are removed. Please reconsider your decision.”
“I love those trees and the lot is sufficient for the number of people that come here. I have never had a problem finding a parking space,” said Angela Richards Dona.
“These trees are part of the Marketplace. I have been coming to the center for more than 20 years and appreciate that the trees have remained. Work on tenant mix not the trees,” said Stephanie Lake.
“These beautiful trees are an iconic part of our neighborhood. A&B, please use your considerable resources to find a way to preserve them. They are the heart of the valley,” said Aubrey Hawk.
“Professional landscape architects and arborists have advised A&B that the trees are completely healthy and that liability issues, root growth and buckling asphalt issues are easily solved by putting attractive planters around the trees,” said Jonathan Boyne. “I encourage A&B to visit the Pacific Club and Nuuanu YMCA to learn how they maintain canopy trees in their parking lots. If the trees are cut, we will not patronize any Manoa Marketplace shops or any A&B stores or enterprises. We will go to other stores in the area, as all the appeal of Manoa Marketplace will be gone.”
Currently, there’s a proposal on the table to save all the monkeypod trees in Manoa Marketplace. This plan uses planters for the row of the trees near Safeway and a green belt to contain the roots of the trees closer to Longs. It also creates more parking spaces in front of the shops, which would seem to provide a solution that meets the needs of everyone involved.
A KITV poll is collecting opinion on the matter.