Ewa Community Tackles Bug Problem Together

Rep. Bob McDermott

It’s rare when grassroots politics involves real grass, but that’s what happened this year in the Ewa By Gentry community.

Residents of the area who are close to agricultural land had been experiencing an infestation of Pacific beetle cockroaches that were attacking grass, shrubs and trees, and even invading homes. The bugs were then dying and rotting, accumulating in air-conditioning systems.

The situation persisted for years and had become a growing problem, with the insects showing up by the thousands.

The problem was brought to my attention by former area Rep. Kymberly Marcos Pine, who is now a city councilwoman. I continued to meet regularly with community members to track the source of the infestation, which proved to be a large, overgrown drainage area. It is owned by Gentry Properties LLC, which proved to be accessible and responsive by sending a community representative, Art Pelkaus. Pelkaus worked with me and the homeowners to tackle the problem.

At Gentry Community Center, we called for a community hearing and heard from several dozen concerned homeowners, led by envoys Dana Fatu and Shawn Troup. At its own expense, Gentry Properties offered to hire an exterminator to treat the perimeter and individual yards. The 7-acre drainage tank, which had accumulated years of overgrowth and trees, was cleared, along with a long-neglected area that had served as a perfect habitat for the Pacific beetle cockroach. The total cost incurred by Gentry Properties was more than $300,000.

Rep. Bob McDermott helps Ewa By Gentry clear out its drainage site. Photo from Rep. McDermott.

It was a privilege to get involved with this project that freed the community of an infestation of the Pacific beetle cockroach. I met so many great, concerned citizens who were effective at communicating their issues and working on behalf of their neighbors. I would especially like to thank Dana Fatu and Shawn Troup for their tireless efforts.

Gentry Properties is a good neighbor. It responded responsibly with concern for the community and made a significant investment when needed.

This is an example of how communication and cooperation can solve a problem at the grassroots level. It also shows what people of goodwill can accomplish when brought together to solve problems.

Rep. Bob McDermott serves District 40. Call 586-9730 or email repmcdermott@capitol.hawaii.gov.