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Kailua's Pali Lanes shutting down


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POSTED: Saturday, November 28, 2009

Craig Avalos clocks about 10 hours a week at the only nonmilitary bowling alley on Windward Oahu. But next month he will have to add several hours of travel each week to keep pace when Pali Lanes in Kailua closes.

Avalos, 50, of Kaneohe, said the closing made him and his friends “;sick to our stomachs.”;

“;They just took our home away,”; he said.

Pali Lanes will close on Dec. 18, leaving only two bowling alleys on Oahu: Aiea Bowl and Leeward Bowl in Pearl City. Some said the closure will also affect senior citizens who bowl regularly in the morning and high school teams that use the alley.

“;The lease is up and the economy is failing,”; said Pali Lanes General Manager Jean Tamala. “;It's not a pick of what we want; it's a necessity.”;

The 24-lane bowling alley's 50-year lease ends Dec. 31, and the owners decided not to renew the lease for financial reasons, she said.

They would have closed earlier, but waited so one league could finish its season.

Lance Lando, 31, is in that league. For 20 years Lando has bowled at Pali Lanes with his grandparents, his father and now his children. He said bowling is still popular in some states, but the many alley closures “;killed the sport”; on Oahu.

Tamala said that in general, league membership plummeted with the economic downturn.

“;The league is the backbone of the bowling alley,”; she said.

Art Machado, general manager of the Oahu Bowling Association, said he and a group of avid bowlers plan to approach the landlord and ask what can be done to keep the lanes open.

“;We're concerned because of the lack of bowling activities,”; he said. He blames property owners for trying to close bowling alleys and open more profitable businesses, such as drugstores. He said that has led the association's membership to drop to about 5,000 from more than 11,000.

“;The biggest decline is really not the bowlers,”; he said. “;We get on average 30 to 40 calls a week about where people can bowl.”;

Kaneohe Ranch manages the land, which is owned by Harold K.L. Castle Foundation.

Mitch D'Olier, Kaneohe Ranch president and chief executive officer, said management received calls from the community and offered to extend the bowling alley's lease at the same rate.

But Pali Lanes' owners declined, as did another Oahu bowling operator that Kaneohe Ranch had asked to step in.

“;Part of it, I'm sure, is the building is old and needs some work,”; he said. Management will study whether to use the property for something else or demolish it.

While Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe has a bowling alley that the public can use, getting in can be a problem, some said.

Pali Lanes bowler Jarret Oki, who works on base, said a civilian would need to get a bowling pass, present an ID and have their vehicle cleared. It is “;hard to get on base,”; he said.

Kathy Chock, a Keolu Elementary School teacher, bowled with her 13-year-old son yesterday. She has been bowling at Pali Lanes since the 1960s.

“;We're going to miss it,”; she said. “;It's a nice place to come, congregate and catch up with friends.”;