The Latest Sherwood Forest News
Please note: On account of our good news (see below) Friends of Sherwood Forest is no longer accepting donations.
Friends of Sherwood Forest Newsletter, September 13, 2022:
Dear Friends of Sherwood Forest,
We can now officially tell you, for the first time, that Sherwood Forest has been saved. That’s right: the fight is finally over, as of this week, and the forest has won a resounding victory!
During this long struggle, the mission of Friends of Sherwood Forest has never altered. Our goal was always to stop the development of the City’s Master Plan and their required Special Management Area Permit. That is what the community came together on in April 2019, at the meeting at Waimanalo Library, and that is exactly what we have kept our focus on throughout this fight.
We have settled with the City, and they have agreed to end their proposed development of Sherwood Forest once and for all. Most importantly, they have agreed to do so on our terms. Our amazing legal team has held the line on everything we asked for, and all aspects of the City’s development plan have been stopped. Their Special Management Area Permit has been extinguished for all time. They have agreed to remove their fencing and debris, take out their road with minimal disruption, and simply leave the area alone to heal naturally. (They will give us a 30-day notice before their cleanup and road removal, and we will let you know in advance.) It is now illegal for anyone, whether they work for the City or not, to make any changes whatsoever to the park. No activity of any kind is allowed without a permit, and an Environmental Impact Statement.
You may have wondered about the long silence since our last newsletter. This was because we were asked not to make public statements during our continuing settlement negotiations. Contrary to what you may have heard, the situation was not resolved until now, and things could still have gone against the forest. Only now that we have reached a settlement can we tell you about this historical outcome.
We’re profusely thankful to our attorneys, Margery Bronster and Lanson Kupau, for all of their great work. Without them, this outcome would not have been possible, and Sherwood Forest would likely now not exist. It was largely because of Margery and Lanson’s relentless determination and expertise that we never gave in to many pressures and temptations to compromise on any of our requests for the forest.
We are also very grateful to Mayor Blangiardi. A large part of this victory is attributable to his vision and willingness to support our cause. A special nod of thanks also goes to filmmaker Edgy Lee for creating the stunning short video documenting the beauty of the Sherwood Forest area. Of course, we also deeply appreciate the dedication of our plaintiffs Moana Kea Among, Maureen Harnisch, Archibald Kaolulo, and Mitch Werth.
Last and not least, we thank the hundreds of you who selflessly supported Friends of Sherwood Forest, donating your time, resources, financial contributions, sign-waving, fundraising, letter-writing, and much more. It has been an amazing three-year struggle, during which our mailing list has gone from numbering in the dozens to numbering in the thousands.
Many congratulations to all of you, and to Sherwood Forest, on this momentous victory!
Friends of Sherwood Forest
Please note: On account of this victory, Friends of Sherwood Forest is no longer accepting donations.
Here’s a summary of our recent efforts to save Sherwood Forest, including some shocking news about the City’s latest attempt to stop us. You’ll be amazed at how far they’re willing to go to prevent us from holding them accountable!
The lawsuit we filed in State Circuit Court on April 27th is still active and pending. In addition, we filed a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent the City from sneaking in their bulldozers and doing more damage while we wait for our day in court. Many people think the matter has been settled because the Mayor held a misleading press conference and announced that it was resolved, but it definitely is not.
Although the Mayor and the City claim their field project is ending, they intend to “mitigate” the site—purportedly to correct the damage they’ve done by repeatedly bulldozing it. However, what they call “mitigation” actually means further development and unnecessary damage, and calls for building a large treeless field in an area that was completely forested before their bulldozers first arrived in 2019. Their so-called “mitigation” includes the following measures, which they had planned for their original field:
● Bulldozing, digging, and “grubbing” (tearing up trees by their roots).
● Grading and leveling the entire area to a specific grade.
● Widespread addition of foreign soil materials that were never part of the forest.
● The use of a toxic herbicide to inhibit natural regrowth of forest species.
● Extensive planting of non-native Bermuda and Rye grasses that never grew in the area.
All of this will cause further environmental destruction, and desecrate burial sites. Each time the City has brought in their heavy equipment so far, they have damaged the natural environment and turned up bones. Now they want to do it again—for the third time—and it is unnecessary. Once again, this will wreak environmental havoc, desecrate Iwi kūpuna, and traumatize the community.
In our talks with the City we tried repeatedly, for months, to hold them accountable for their so-called “mitigation.” But they are insistent on developing their large field in a formerly forested area. Many community members believe the City is so adamant about this because it opens the door for their future development schemes.
So what did the City do when they realized we can’t agree to their new development plan, and won’t drop our lawsuit? They turned their wrath on us, and took an extreme and rare step: the City counter-sued us! They know we have exposed their “mitigation” for what it really is, and they know we are right, so they are trying to intimidate and silence us (and others who might dare question their authority). This is an out-of-control government turning on its own citizens, and using our own tax dollars to fight us. Is this how you want them spending your tax dollars—to attack responsible citizens trying to hold their government accountable?
We are a group of concerned community members, volunteers, and taxpayers, who care about saving Oahu’s last remaining coastal forest, and feel ethically obligated to do what is right for our community. We have one goal—to stop the City from desecrating a sacred woodland and turning it into a field. We are doing our best to uphold our civic responsibility, preserve a shared community resource, protect a sacred ancestral burial ground, and defend endangered species habitat. This is about democracy, and holding our elected officials accountable when we see injustice and dishonesty. But the City’s response to our efforts is to try to bully us into not speaking up.
Thank you for your concern and support. For more information, go to Save SherwoodForest.org. Please note that our court date is at the end of this month. If you’d like to support our ongoing legal efforts, please visit our GoFundMe page. You can also click the “Got Gold?” icon on this page. We are still accepting donations of old gold—broken chains, un-matched earrings, and even dental gold.
Please note: Friends of Sherwood Forest is no longer accepting donations.
OUR NEW VIDEO: Some of our talented supporters have created a four-minute video for Friends of Sherwood Forest, and it is generating a huge response. It gives you the essence of why we’re all fighting to save this beautiful, sacred place. Please share it far and wide. You can watch it at this link: https://vimeo.com/444417024.
OUR FIGHT CONTINUES. After our lawsuit and Temporary Restraining Order were filed on April 27th, the City approached us and asked for settlement talks. We agreed, and the talks have been ongoing since then, but no agreement has been reached.
GOOD FAITH? Soon after talks began, the City requested that as a show of good faith we drop the TRO. We did so, and requested that as a reciprocal show of good faith Mayor Caldwell refrain from any press release until our talks were over. Within days, he held a press conference and announced that the Sherwood Forest situation had been settled. His press release began, “Mayor Caldwell announces end to field project at Waimanalo Bay Beach Park.” At his press conference he stated that opponents of his project were present, yet we (the only legal opponents) were neither included nor notified in advance about the press conference. He never even mentioned the current lawsuit or ongoing settlement talks. His media event misled the public and the press, making people think an agreement had been reached. But nothing promised by the Mayor in that press conference is enforceable, and it had nothing to do with the ongoing settlement talks.
MITIGATION OR DEVELOPMENT? The Mayor publicly claimed he wants to drop the development project and “mitigate” the damage done to the forest. Yet the City’s proposed “mitigation” includes measures that are almost the same as what they had planned for their original sports field. What they are calling “mitigation” actually includes bulldozing, digging, grading and leveling of a large area (3.67 of 4 destroyed acres). The proposed “above ground” irrigation will involve further digging in this sacred area. All of this will once again traumatize the environment, and desecrate Iwi kūpuna.
The forest is growing back and takes care of erosion potential just as it is. The City’s “mitigation” process will destroy the forest a third time, and complete a large field in an area that was forested before their bulldozers arrived in 2019. Is their mitigation plan just a ruse to complete their park “improvement” for development purposes?
Friends of Sherwood Forest has one goal—to stop the City and County from desecrating this sacred area and turning it into a field of any kind. We do not oppose mitigation, if it is true mitigation. But we do oppose development under the guise of mitigation.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT? We’ve been informed that the City plans to begin destruction again soon. If they start bulldozing in violation of good faith and with no warning as they have done in the past, our TRO can be refiled again at any moment. Our goal is to stop the forest from being destroyed for the third time.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Stay informed, and sign up for our email updates. It is challenging to raise funds in a pandemic, and we know this is a trying time for everyone, but we humbly ask for any assistance you can offer. You can contribute to our GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/f/save-sherwood-forest-waimanalo.
In addition, we are taking scrap gold donations. The contributions are adding up quickly! Please send broken gold chains, single un-matched earrings, dental gold, etc., to:
Friends of Sherwood Forest
350 Ward Avenue, Suite 106, #241
Honolulu, HI 96814
Thank you for your interest in saving Sherwood Forest!
Please note: Friends of Sherwood Forest is no longer accepting donations.