And now we’re going to talk a bit about trees–or rather, the act of going up to very old, very beautiful trees and chain-sawing them into sawdust and toothpicks. This is happening, or by this point has happened, at the Lahaina Market Place on Front Street. That little courtyard of shops has been an oasis of shade for decades in Lahaina Town, but no more of that. All of the trees are coming down.
Did I mention at least one of the shop owners in the place is pissed? Did I mention he is supremely pissed?
“It looks like a SCUD missile hit the courtyard,” said Scott Picard of Sure Thing Burger. “Lahaina Market Place is a respite for everyone in town. You know how warm it gets. This is where they stopped. They’d smell the food, see the jewelry, see the glass blower. Now that’s gone.”
No one from Lahaina Market Place management responded to my request for comment (the property owner is the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation). And one employee of one of the Lahaina Market Place did tell me that one reason for the tree removal was apparently that the roots from the old trees were pushing up the courtyard’s bricks (a common enough reason for tree removal). But Picard told me that he received no warning whatsoever that the trees were coming down.
“There were no signs, letters or phone calls,” he said. “We had to do a temporary closure. You can’t give food away during construction like that. It’s like a sawmill when you’re cutting these trees down. It was like it was snowing–there was total whiteout.”
So, yeah. Those of who liked to duck into Lahaina Market Place and rest under the shade of gentle, ancient trees while window shopping or getting brain freeze from one of Ululani’s Shave Ice are now out of luck. They can still do those things, of course, but they’ll be exposed to the blazing Lahaina sun like everything else on Front Street.
“They could have done a ceremony,” Picard told me. “They could have done a million things. Instead, this is an epic event with a disastrous ending.”