The parent company, Molokai Properties Ltd., closed the course on Saturday, along with the ranch, Molokai Lodge and Kaupoa Beach Village, saying it lost millions on ranch operations and was facing continued stiff community opposition to its plans for an estate housing project above Laau Point. Management permanently laid off 120 employees on this island of 7,500.
The 120-unit Ke Nani Kai condominiums are located within the 1,200-acre Kaluakoi Resort. The Kaluakoi Hotel was closed in 2001, and the now-defunct golf course surrounds the condo project.
Association past President Darryl Canady and his wife, Jody, said they were upset by the ranch’s decision to cut down the trees. The Canadys and other neighbors contacted the media, Sierra Club, and state and county elected officials to complain.
Darryl Canady said the ranch was exhibiting a sour grapes attitude after not getting what it wanted from the community.
“Personally, I feel in my heart of hearts that they’re trying to get back at us,” he said.
Jody Canady said she was really upset, not only because palm trees were beautiful, but also the loss with reduce their property value.
Molokai Properties executive John Sabas said the trees were a liability because they were dying or likely to fall over in a strong wind.
Darryl Canady said they were perfectly healthy trees.
“This is strictly a safety and health and liability issue,” said Sabas, general manager for community affairs. “This is just for the protection of the company . . . This is not even a story.”
Lucienne deNaie, of the Hawaii Sierra Club chapter, said members of her group have contacted the ranch and are looking into the complaint.
Maui County Arborist David Sakoda said it’s not within the county’s jurisdiction since the golf course is on private property.
Sabas, in a rare brief interview since the closure announcement several weeks ago, said the tree felling is just part of the necessary work involved in mothballing and protecting the ranch assets. The downed trees will be used to block trail and road access to the course. He said they’re still evaluating how many more will be cut down.
“It’s gotten so ridiculous,” Sabas said of the public criticism. “I guess for some people it’s really hitting home now.”
Sabas declined to discuss any other issues surrounding the ranch, such as whether management intends to move forward with the environmental impact study required for the Laau subdivision to gain state Land Use Commission approval.
A top-ranking International Longshore and Warehouse Union official said last week he was told by ranch leaders that they plan to continue to seek approval for the ranch master plan for subdividing the Laau lands and that ranch lands are not for sale.
• Chris Hamilton can be reached at email@example.com.
Molokai Properties Ltd. had workers cut down 15 palm trees at the Kaluakoi Resort
DARRYL CANADY photo