LAHAINA - Spearheaded by plans developed by the Maui Friends of the Library working with Garden View Landscape specialist Shawn McLaughlin, the landscaping of the Lahaina Public Library lawn on Front Street is moving along with new collaborators and supporters.
Experts who have joined the planning process to place native trees and cultural descriptors on the library lawn include Landscape Architect Bill Mitchell of Hawaii Land Design and Archaeological Consultant Denise DeJoseph of Pacific Heritage Consultants. Both volunteers have joined the project, as the county had specified that professionals in these areas were essential to moving the project through the permitting process.
These professionals join a growing group of project supporters, including Keeaumoku Kapu of Na Aikane O Maui Cultural Center, and Lahaina Restoration Foundation.
The Lahaina Public Library Landscaping Committee includes (from left): Branch Manager Madeleine Buchanan; Theo Morrison, Lahaina Restoration Foundation; Shawn McLaughlin, Garden View Landscaping; Keeaumoku and Uilani Kapu, Na Aikane O Maui Cultural Center and Moku O Maui; and David Yamashita, Maui County Planning Department.
Mitchell, who has participated in numerous county Parks and Recreation and land planning projects, currently chairs the Maui Redevelopment Agency in Wailuku. His accomplishments in the private sector include the landscape planning and design for South Maui Regional Park, Wailuku Market Street Improvements, and Waikapu Country Town Master Plan.
DeJoseph has worked in cultural resource management in California, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii. She recently served as a consultant to the Hawaii State Historic Preservation Division for Maui County historic preservation compliance reviews. A past board member of the American Cultural Resources Association, she has extensive project management experience in federal and state environmental impact assessment. She is actively engaged in historic preservation in West Maui.
"Though this is a relatively small area to demand this level of attention, the historical significance of the property is enormous," said Sara Foley, landscape committee chair and Maui Friends of the Library board member.
Once a garden-like setting amid cultivated fields fed by mountain streams, King Kamehameha I and later kings built a foundation for one of the most progressive monarchies the world had ever seen: the Kingdom of Hawaii. Lahaina became the capital of the monarchy.
The great king reportedly prostrated himself before his subjects by tending his own kalo (taro) patch in the place where the library sits to show his respect for the labor of the common people to provide food.
Queen Ka'ahumanu lived on this spot and reigned as regent. Nearby, King Kamehameha III and missionaries wrote the constitution that served the monarchy until the 1880s.
The landscaping project is the culmination of a five-year initiative spearheaded by the Maui Friends of the Library with help from the Rotary Club of Lahaina. This project started with the purchase of new furniture for the adult section of the library and continued with a $300,000 renovation of the interior of the building itself, where volunteers and contractors provided all new flooring, bookcases, desks, computers and fresh paint on all the walls inside and out. Now comes the final phase: re-landscaping the lawn.
The Maui Friends of the Library has applied for the necessary permits for the landscaping, and committee members reviewed plans recently with the Maui County Cultural Resource Commission. Work is continuing with the county and Lahaina Restoration Foundation to merge the library landscaping project with plans for the improvement of the area surrounding Lahaina Harbor.
A website with the final design for the Library Landscaping Project and more details is under development and will be launched soon.