Saturday, January 20, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, January 20, 2001

Raceway possible for Kalaeloa

By Yasmin Anwar
Advertiser Staff Writer

The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has never been thrilled at the prospect of building a homestead community next to the Tesoro oil refinery, busy airport runways and a military landfill.

But that’s not the case for operators of Hawaii’s only privately owned motor raceway, who can’t wait to take over a noisy, industrial 140-acre lot owned by Hawaiian Homes at the former Barbers Point Naval Air Station, now known as Kalaeloa.

"It’s perfect in terms of what we want, and we’ve worked hard to find it," said Mike Oakland Sr., president and general partner of the Hawaii Motorsports Center, which owns the Hawaii Raceway Park at Campbell Industrial Park.

The Hawaii Motorsports Center is negotiating a land swap with Hawaiian Homes officials that would place the raceway park in Kalaeloa, and a homesteader development on a site in Kunia that is owned by a branch of Niihau’s Robinson Family.

Officials yesterday declined to disclose the exact location of the Kunia lot, but said they are excited about the plan.

They said the Kunia site is far more suited to residential purposes than the lot Hawaiian homes received in a 900-acre federal land transfer, including 586 acres at Barbers Point, under the 1995 Hawaiian Home Lands Recovery Act

"The Kunia parcel will definitely serve us better," said Mike McElroy, land management administrator for the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

He said the agency is still researching the feasibility of the plan, which requires the approval of the U.S. Interior Department and the Hawaiian Homes Commission.

If all runs smoothly, McElroy said he anticipates the completion of a Hawaiian homes community in Kunia by 2003. There are more than 6,000 applicants for leases on Hawaiian homelands on Oahu.

Oakland said he’s been trying to move the 36-year-old Hawaii Raceway Park to Barbers Point for more than a decade. After an arduous public review process, the Navy approved the plans. But the law granting the parcel to Hawaiian Homes led to renewed negotiations.

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