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OFF-ROAD SUPPORTERS FILL LEGISLATURE WITH LEASE EXPIRED

Hope still in the air with plea to senators

By Nick Akimoto

A public hearing was held before the 36th Guam Legislature Friday afternoon to discuss the issues that have been plaguing the Guam International Raceway.

The hearing, which began at 2 pm, dragged out for nearly six and a half hours as many concerned community members delivered testimony to save the raceway which has been home to many members of Guam’s racing community. 

In January of this year, the Guam Racing Federation was issued an eviction notice by the Chamorro Land Trust Commission (GLTC) and was ordered to leave the property. This left many worried for the well-being of Guam racing, fearing that the eviction would lead to more illegal and dangerous road races and threaten the future of the sport for its younger members. Even weeks after the 120-day extended deadline for the GRF to vacate the raceway expired on June 2, the racing federation continues to occupy the property. 

This issue was brought before the Guam Legislature with the introduction of Bill 56-37, which suggested that the 250-acre property which the Guam International Raceway occupies be transferred from the CLTC to the Department of Parks and Recreation. 

Early in the hearing, the CLTC wanted to clarify their purpose in issuing the eviction notice. 

“[The Chamorro Land Trust Commission] does not oppose racing. This is a huge piece of property. Only a portion of this has the raceway, so the commissioners can take up in discussions in portioning out the property. There is no opposition to the racetrack staying open,” said Alice Taijeron, Administrative Director for the CLTC. 

Director Taijeron holds that the GRF has failed to live up to their lease agreement and assert that the GRF has allowed for illegal quarrying to take place on the property for their own financial gain. 

“The eviction that was issued to the Guam Racing Federation was brought upon because of violations they committed, because of a breach of their contract with the Chamorro Land Trust Commission, because they conducted other activities not associated with the racetrack, because they were not good stewards of our land,” said Director Taijeron. Despite serving an eviction notice to the GRF, the CLTC maintain they are more than willing to continue to allow racing activities to continue the property so long as the overseeing organization is able to live up to the land lease agreement for the raceway. 

Following the testimony from the CLTC, other members of the community called into question the eviction notice itself, especially considering the violations made by other tenants of CLTC properties. The concerns against serving an eviction notice to the home for so many racing and car activities also remained despite the CLTC insisting that they do not intend to put an end to racing should another overseer take over responsibility for the racetrack.

“When I signed this bill, Public Law 24-141, at that time I used to run, and I was running from Two Lover’s Point to Marine Drive and I was faced by four car lights heading towards me with crowds cheering them on. It was not safe. The raceway park created an opportunity for those illegal racers to go on to a park and race with a lot of confidence and safety,” said former Senator Larry Kasperbauer, who testified in support of the racetrack and called into question the CTLC’s action at this point when so many violations had occurred beforehand. 

The future of the Guam Racing Federation and the Guam International Raceway continue to be deliberated over, as the Legislature waits to vote on the bill in session. Meanwhile, the CLTC and GRF continue to look for resolution outside of the Legislature to rectify the issues between both parties.

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COMING SOON …

  • 3rd Quarter Sports: Rugby, Boys Basketball, Softball, Tennis in full swing!

 

 

QUICK HITS

The Guam men’s national basketball team moved up four slots in the FIBA World Ranking to #72 after an impressive win over Mongolia and a hard-fought loss to Japan.
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Shawn Bamba won the Arizona state wrestling championship while siblings Jussiah and Justyn took third place in their divisions at state.
Shawn (12th) won the 150-lb division while Jussiah (11th) took bronze in the 120-lb class and Justyn (9th) took bronze in the 106-lb category.
All three were born on Guam before moving to Surprise, Arizona in 2014, where they all picked up wrestling in 2016.
Their parents are Justin and Shannon Bamba from Pago Bay.

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