Kunia Camp Residents Welcome Plan to Preserve Plantation - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Kunia Camp Residents Welcome Plan to Preserve Plantation

Loma Corderos Loma Corderos
Mel Gonzales Mel Gonzales
Stanley Fagarand Stanley Fagarand

By Mari-Ela David

KUNIA (KHNL) -- The Mayor's announcement Wednesday to preserve Kunia Plantation Village means former Del Monte workers, retirees, and their families may not have to move out of their homes after all.

Under the agreement, the landowner, James Campbell Company would transfer the 119-acre village to Hawaii Agriculture Research Center (HARC), a non-profit, for $1.

HARC would then keep the plantation homes as affordable rentals for agricultural workers and retirees.

Those living at the village have called the Kunia camp home for decades so they say the city's plan to save it means preserving years of memories.

It's a hopeful breakthrough in efforts to save the last plantation village on Oahu. The residents who make up the historic camp say the plan means an end to their two year struggle. It was in 2006 when Del Monte announced the end of its operations at the plantation.

"It was very stressful, you know you try to find places outside from here and it's triple the rent, I mean it's hard," said Loma Corderos, a Kunia Plantation Village resident.

With rent at only about $900 a month, former Del Monte workers and their families at the Kunia camp have been scrambling to find a new home before their lease expires at the end of the year. But residents say it's not just about the money.

"A lot of memories in here, all the children were born here. They lived here for about 25-27 years, and they love this place," said Mel Gonzales, whose daughter's family resides at the Kunia Plantation Village.

"My wife likes it over here, because it's nicer over here, no yelling, that's why my wife likes being here," said Stanley Fagarand, a Del Monte Retiree.

The city still needs to approve the transfer of ownership. But residents say it's the much-needed political push they have been fighting for.

"I'm happy. I'm born and raised here, lived here all my life. And this is a very quiet community, I mean this is home for me, I don't know what it's like living in the city or any other place," said Corderos.

To seal the deal, the Planning Commission and the City Council needs to approve the proposal. Mayor Mufi Hanneman says he is hopeful they will recognize the merit of the plan.

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