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Residents Lobby for Car Race Track and Puu O Hulu Park Restrooms

Scot Shimamura

Car racing proponents and leeward coast residents lobbied the Honolulu City Council today.

Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Li Cobian, race track proponent

The island of O’ahu is the only major county district without a car race track. The old drag strip at Campbell Industrial Park closed 12 years ago and racing enthusiasts are eyeing the old Barbers Point Naval Air Station runway as a viable replacement.  Li Cobian represents the Sports Car Club of America and U-H Race Team.

“We want to restore the existing airstrip for a film site and a landing zone for emergency cases plus use it as a potential motor sports asphalt area for road racing.”

Cobian says the proposed race track is not in the National Park Service Historic Preservation Site which consists of the 1941 Ewa Battlefield and runway.   The City’s Department of Parks and Recreation has been working on acquiring the Navy land for 20 years and expects to close the deal in March.  But, deputy director, Jeanne Ishikawa, says a race track is not at the top of the list.

Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Jeanne Ishikawa, deputy director, City Department of Parks and Recreation

“We know that open fields and play areas, we know that is the highest demand that we have.  That is an area that will serve the    whole island so, I think, at this point it’s early to make any commitment but I know we will be open to hearing from anyone.”

But, City Council Committee on Parks, Community and Customer Services chair, Ann Kobayashi, sides with the motor sports community.

“I hope it’ll include a race track after that accident and all the drifting that is occurring at Roundtop, these people have nowhere else to release their energy when they want to race or drift or whatever they do.”  

Meanwhile, the Puu O Hulu Community Park in Wai’anae has been waiting 20 years for a bathroom and Richard Medeiros says the facility is not up to par. 

Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Committee on Parks, Community and Customer Services chair, Ann Kobayashi
Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Richard Medeiros, Leeward O'ahu

"We have a lot of teams that use it.  Now there is a bathroom built there.  It is a unisex bathroom with, I believe, three stalls which, personally, I don’t think is sufficient but the structure is physically there.”

But there’s no electrical hookup and the bathroom cannot be used until March when a new transformer is installed.  Patty Kahanamoku Teruya is a member of the Nanakuli Neighborhood Board.

Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Patty Kanakahole-Teruya

“Who does that, when you play football or sports and you have to run up to the hedges or under a tree like a dog or an animal and use the bathroom.  What park do we develop that doesn’t have a restroom.”

Chair Kobayashi says Councilmembers are also frustrated and upset about how the city administration is spending money.

“We’re having fire alarms installed in our offices which we don’t need.  We don’t live here so we don’t need a fire alarm in our office to waken us.  Put one in the hallway.  That’s all we need.”

For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.

Wayne Yoshioka
Wayne Yoshioka is an award-winning journalist who has worked in television, print and radio in Hawaiʻi. He also has been on both sides of politics as a state departmental appointee and political/government reporter. He covered Hurricane Iwa (1982) as a TV reporter; was the State Department of Defense/Civil Defense spokesperson for Hurricane Iniki (1992); and, commanded a public affairs detachment in Afghanistan (2006). He has a master's degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is a decorated combat veteran (Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and 22 other commendation/service medals). He resides in Honolulu.
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