Permitting process has delayed off-road track
A year ago there were stories about a racetrack to be built on Sand Island and open by July 2007. I haven't seen anything about it since. When might it open?
Answer: The state official overseeing the project -- a partnership between the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the nonprofit Sand Island Off-Highway Vehicle Association -- is "cautiously optimistic" that the Sand Island Off-Highway Vehicle Park will open this summer.
That's a year later than projected last spring, after approval was granted for DLNR to lease an unused 30-acre parcel of state park land, adjacent to Sand Island State Park, to the association.
However, unexpected "snags" -- requirements for a city "grubbing-and-grading" permit and a permit from the state Department of Health required under the federal Clean Water Act -- have not only delayed the project, but also driven up costs, said Curt Cottrell, DLNR's Na Ala Hele Trails and Access manager.
The city permit also required producing an engineering topography map.
Cottrell tried to do everything "in-house" but eventually hired a consultant because of the complicated permit processes.
He has $30,000 in federal grants for the project, but has so far had to spend about $14,000 to obtain the permits and topography map.
That leaves about $16,000 for volunteers from the nonprofit association to use for equipment rental and fuel to actually put in the trails and tracks once the permits are obtained.
Cottrell's hoping the get the city permit "shortly." DLNR already completed an environmental assessment and got a waiver on a Special Management Area permit because the project is in a state park, he said.
Also still to come is the Health Department permit, required to make sure there are adequate sediment control barriers to prevent runoff into the water.
"What's really taking us a long time is our lack of experience ever doing this," Cottrell acknowledged.
When the project is completed, about 18 of the 30 acres will be developed for "actual ridable space" for motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, peewee motorcycles for children, a BMX area for bicycles and a "truck-challenge area."
The Sand Island Off-Highway Vehicle Association's initial no-cost lease to run and maintain the area will be for two years.
"It really is an out-of-the-box creative solution to trying to find ridable space on Oahu for ATVs (and other off-highway vehicles), which is the fastest-growing recreational activity in the United States," Cottrell said.
The Kahuku Motocross Park is the only other authorized off-road track on state land on Oahu.
DLNR "is trying to redirect, with what limited chunks of usable state land that this is appropriate for," to authorized sites, Cottrell said.
He hopes the private sector will recognize the opportunity to step in and address the growing demand for such recreational activity.
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