When 40 members of the Kauai Motocross Riders Association converged on a Kaua’i County Council committee meeting last week to support the placement of toilets at the Wailua Motocross Track, they thought council approval of $100,000 for that project was a foregone conclusion.
After all, the proposal was clear cut, they reasoned.
But little did they know, the matter wasn’t so clear cut.
The discussion by members of the Council’s Community Assistance Committee at the historic County Building on Wednesday sparked a slew of questions over whether the group had a $1 million insurance policy and a county contract to use the facility and whether the track should be closed and reopened elsewhere.
In response, group members asserted the insurance policy exists, that they have a county contract and that they want to stay put at the site because the new site, on an 18-acre state parcel in Kapaia, is three years away from opening.
Kip Furugen, president of the motorcycle group which consists of between 200 to 250 members, warned there could be a jump in crime and drug use if the current track is closed.
“Without this facility, it would be a total loss,” Furugen said after the meeting. “Kids would be on the street.”
At the end of the meeting, 40 members of the group got what they wanted.
With clear instructions from the council to proceed, county engineer Donald Fujimoto said $100,000 would be used to put in movable toilets at the track.
The promise to do that came after council chairman Kaipo Asing and other council members urged administration officials to make the improvements for the benefit of residents who frequently use the track.
“The message from the council is the money is there. It is in the budget,” Asing said. “Do it temporary (installation of the toilets at the current track) and do something permanent (moving the toilets to a new track) later on.”
Asing said if permitting problems exist, administration officials should work out the problems and get moving on the project.
“Lets help the community members … so they can enjoy the sport (of motocross riding),” Asing said.
But he agreed to move forward on plans to put in the toilets after getting his marching orders from the council.
“We have lots of projects and we have to prioritize,” Fujimoto said. “However, if the direction is to keep it, hey, that is what we will do.”
Fujimoto initially expressed his reluctance to move ahead on the project due to questions about the insurance policy and a contract allowing the motorcycle group to use the track.
Fujimoto voiced concerns that the county could be pulled into a lawsuit if someone is injured at the track site and a lawsuit is filed. The $1 million insurance policy will only go so far in protecting the county’s interest, he said.
Fujimoto also said not having quick access to a county contract or agreement allowing the motorcycle riders to use the track was perplexing.
“The members have sent the insurance policy to (council-man Jay) Furfaro, and (prior to that) he had been waiting nine months for it,” Fujimoto said after the meeting. “And it (the organization) has never produced it until today.”
Fujimoto said that “there hasn’t been a legal contract for a year, I believe.”
The motorcycle group said they have the contract and that the delay in getting the document to county officials was very likely the result of the “coming and going” of various motorcycle organizations that held the contract in the past.
On the subject of whether the track should be relocated, long-time motocrosser Tom Summers insisted the track remain open until the new one opens.
Regardless of what critics have said about motorcycle activities at the current track site, “this is really, in my opinion, the best spot for a motorcycle track on Kaua’i,” Summers said.
“It is centrally located, from the Northside and the Southside. We are close to the hospitals,” Summers said. “It is easy access if there is an accident because the track is located near a main road, Kuhio Highway.”
Summers said the various motorcycle organizations took care of the track, now 40 years old, when no one else did.
Summers said he began riding on the track in the early 1970s and in the years that have passed, motorcyclists and their families have carved out riding courses at the site, maintained them and even used pumps to draw water from irrigation ditches to spray the grounds to keep the dust down.
The 40 members of the Kauai Motocross Riders Association initially voiced support for moving the track to a new, larger site in Kapaia.
That track would be built on an 18-acre site mauka of Ma’alo Road, which leads to Wailua Falls, a popular visitor destination.
The site belongs to the state, but plans call for it to be transferred over to the county for use through an executive order to be signed by Gov. Linda Lingle, the motorcyclists said.
If a new track were to be built there, councilman Mel Rapozo said he would like to see a track configuration for professionals, novices, beginners and children who ride.
The motorcyclists who attended the meeting were enthusiastic about the idea of getting a new track geared for their sport. But they lost interest when they heard Fujimoto report an environmental assessment had to be done for the new site, a step that could take a year.
Furugen said keeping the current track site is a better way to go for now.
“I am really happy (about the decision to put in the restrooms at the current track site),” Furugen said after the meeting. “We have backed up the (Baptiste) administration and the council on this.”
- Lester Chang, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and firstname.lastname@example.org.