Motorpark noise study finds minimal impact

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A new sound study shows that the proposed Kona Motorsport Park won’t be a noise nuisance to its neighbors.

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A new sound study shows that the proposed Kona Motorsport Park won’t be a noise nuisance to its neighbors.

The park, which has been in discussions for two decades now, won’t become reality until a number of hurdles are cleared. But Paul Maddox, president of the Hawaii Racing Association, said the study should help convince detractors who worry their peace of mind will be ruined by engine noise.

Residential areas at the bottom of Makalei Estates and the proposed Palamanui development will likely be subject only to occasional “worst case” noises like backfires and certain types of dragsters, according to the $20,000 study by D.L. Adams Associates. More routine uses like sports car races, go-carts, all-terrain vehicles and street car drag “will likely be inaudible or barely noticed at any nearby current or future residential area,” according to the study. The nearest home is 2.2 miles away. Palamanui is 5,000 feet to the south.

Technicians for the study took sound samples during a Hawaii Drag Racing League event at the Hilo Drag Strip last August, and used computer modeling to project and then measure those same levels at the Kona site mauka and north of the airport.

“I think the bottom line is that the highway and the airport when planes are taking off is the greatest cause of noise in the area, not the sounds our little bikes and cars would make,” Maddox said.

Neighbors, including residents of Makalei Estates mauka of the site, have expressed concerns about potential noise and light pollution from the site. One resident who declined to be identified said on Saturday that those worries haven’t been completely negated by the study.

In 2014, the HRA sent out 1,600 letters to surrounding residences and businesses, receiving back 25 letters in support and 11 against, according to the association.

Maddox said the park will be a weekend destination with no lights and no power.

“It’s about going out and playing in the dirt, then maybe some asphalt,” he said. “One step at a time.”

The park would be built in three phases, starting with courses and trails for trucks, all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles, followed in later phases by a banked dirt stock car oval, a 2-mile winding road course and a quarter-mile drag strip, along with a 20-acre multiuse area for concerts, car shows, fairs and other events. Full buildout would cost at least $36 million.

“The biggest thing on everyone’s list is a drag strip where it’s not raining all the time like Hilo,” said Maddox. “But that’s a lot of money.”

The next step is an economic study to show how the park can bolster the local economy, Maddox said

“It’s not just going to be a great recreation area, it’s going to bring in money,” he said.

County officials have supported the park going back to the Harry Kim administration and a 1999 County Council resolution supporting motorsports facilities on the island.

In 1994, the HRA was eyeing a 600-acre site near the Puuanahulu Landfill, but the state Department of Land and Natural Resources recommended the current area four years later as a better fit. That 450-acre location was shrunk to 250 acres after historical sites were found at the north end and lava tubes at the south portion.

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The state-owned land would be reclassified from conservation to urban and transferred to the county to be managed as a park, and an environmental impact study would have to be conducted as part of making the motorsport park a reality.

The full sound study is available on the Hawaii Racing Association website at hawaiiracingassoc.org.

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