PAHALA, Hawaii: There could be a new controversy brewing in Pahala over trees that were recently knocked over and removed by the county. Julia Neal of the Ka’u Calendar has the story:

Photo of downed tree by Julia Neal

SOURCE: Julia Neal, Ka’u Calendar News Briefs

A shade tree crashed to the ground early this morning at Pahala Community Center as the county cut the last in a row of trees that adorned the park and provided shade for generations. A county tree cutter said they were told that the community approved of cutting the giant trees. The plan stemmed from the adjacent River of Life Assembly of God Church complaining to the county that leaves were falling on the building the church built next to the county park line and that the church feared branches could fall and hurt someone. At least eight large shade trees were cut down in spring of 2010.

One Pahala-born man said he grew up playing under the trees and that he saw it as a tragedy as the trees were heavily pruned at great expense last year and did not seem to pose any danger.

In December 2010, Jen Knippling, of County Council member Brittany Smart’s office, said the Department of Parks and Recreation has determined that the remaining shade trees were well trimmed and in good health. Brittany Smart said that she was told today that the county safety officer had determined that the branches high in the tree constituted a safety risk.