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Red light for racetrack


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POSTED: Sunday, February 22, 2009

Question: What is the status of the Sand Island BMX off-road vehicle racetrack?

Answer: Work on the Sand Island Off-Highway Vehicle Park still awaits a crucial “;grubbing and grading”; permit from the city Department of Planning and Permitting.

When we answered a similar question 11 months ago (”;Kokua Line,”; March 20, 2008), the state official overseeing the project said he was “;cautiously optimistic”; that the park would be opened last summer.

That already would've been a year later than the initial summer 2007 target date.

Curt Cottrell, recently named assistant administrator for the state Parks Division, was hesitant to give an estimated date this time but said he's “;cautiously optimistic”; again that the opening will be this summer.

“;I would love to see people riding (there) this summer,”; he said. “;That's tenable. It's all riding on the final issuance of approval on that grubbing and grading permit.”;

After that, there are still final approvals to be gotten on the state Department of Land and Natural Resources' lease of the land and other items, mostly involving in-house paperwork, but no hitches are expected.

Preliminary approval already has been given to the Sand Island Off-Vehicle Park Association to lease the unused, relatively narrow 30-acre parcel just Ewa of Sand Island State Park.

And, the state Department of Health has approved a permit for the project as required under the federal Clean Water Act. The holdup remains the city permit.

“;We're very close to a grubbing and grading permit, but we're not there yet,”; Cottrell said.

He assures people that “;the project isn't dead; it's just been in this weird hiatus”; of trying to figure out from an engineering standpoint what needs to be done.

It's become a “;design-as-we-go project,”; Cottrell said, “;which is important to note because it's not like we have a set of engineered plans that show every grade shift for the riding trails.”;

The project budget remains based on a $30,000 federal grant, which means much is dependent upon volunteer labor and contributions.

Cottrell said the $20,000 or so remaining will be used mainly to pay for fuel for the heavy equipment that will be needed to clear the land and build the trails. Volunteers will operate the donated equipment.

“;Then comes the interesting part about where you put the trails,”; Cottrell said.

He said Grace Pacific, which has used the area to stockpile asphalt and other materials for state projects, should be credited for donating “;countless”; concrete pilings that will be used as sediment control devices.

As long as it's taking to get the off-highway park built, the understanding is that it will only be a temporary lessee.

Because it is basically “;beachfront property,”; the Department of Land and Natural Resources has bigger plans for that area in the future, Cottrell said.

The department recently began unveiling its Recreational Renaissance Plan, which includes a proposal for a Sand Island Ocean Recreation Park.

The Sand Island Off-Highway Vehicle Association “;would like to occupy that space indefinitely, but if the bigger public project gets approved and funded, then at some time we would have to shop for another place for this group to operate from,”; he said. “;This is just a temporary fix”; until appropriate land more mauka is found, he said.

But, it's expected to take years to get the funding and permits to make the ambitious ocean recreation park at Sand Island a reality.

We left a phone message for the head of the Sand Island Off-Highway Vehicle Association, but our call was not returned.

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