Green light for $500K raceway project

LIHUE — After Kauai’s only racetrack was repaved in 2013 thanks to capital improvement plan funds, the drag strip will now add electricity and a scoreboard for its 2018 season.

At a Planning Commission meeting Tuesday, members unanimously approved plans to install a $500,000 project that would add electricity and other infrastructure to Kauai Raceway Park in Mana.

“We were confident of the decision and we knew we had support from the Planning Commission,” said Tony Ricci, president of the Garden Island Racing Association. “We didn’t hear anything negative. And we were able to answer all their questions to their approval.”

With the approval, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative will create infrastructure and bring power from the highway to the track, which will bring power to a scoreboard and 19 lights planned along and around the track.

The plan is to set up infrastructure by 2018 and install the lights soon after.

One concern raised during public testimony was the light’s effects on shearwaters.

Makaala Kaaumoana said she was conflicted between drag racing and the native birds.

“I hope that this application includes every possible safeguard for the seabirds,” she said. “That is an area they fly over and I would the expect the applicant and the commercial endeavor to obtain and pay for some monitoring.”

Ricci, however, assured critics GIRA never conducts night races during the fledgling season.

“We do not have night races in October, November, and we don’t race at all in December and January,” he said. “We never have for that reason and we never will. That is our schedule. We’re not going to change it.”

The lights will be designed to focus light on the track, away from spectators.

County capital improvement project budget funds will be used for the lights, which he expects will be installed in 2019 or 2020.

Kyle Kaneshiro, principal at The Limtiacio Consulting Group, a civil engineering and environmental consultant, said the facility uses temporary generators and lighting for monthly night races.

“In order to help improve the environment, GIRA wanted to bring in permanent lighting to provide a longer-term, safer environment for their racers,” he said.

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