Is the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet violating federal law?
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Approximately half of the 104 acres Aloha Stadium utilizes is land that is subject to a federal deed restriction. A National Park Service deed said the property can be used for public park or recreational purposes. But two-thirds of the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet sets up on the land that's under restriction.
"There are restrictions also that have to do with no commercial use, no retail use. It makes you think of the swap meet and whether it fits those criteria" State Auditor Jan Yamane said.
In 2012 the State Auditor recommended the Stadium Authority seek formal approval from the feds for the swap meet.
The Authority said, "The Auditor recognized the many complexities inherent in operating a swap meet and marketplace within the parameters and policies, procedures, and guidelines set forth by the National Parks Service for which the Stadium Authority must comply."
Stadium officials said they showed the Park Service the swap meet and got written approval. This year, Yamane reviewed those documents.
"The National Park Service has not come out with a clear statement that 'Yes. The swap meet is approved,'" she said.
About 700 vendors sell at the stadium swap meet.
"The way they explained it to us is that they're meeting the requirements of that because they consider the Swap Meet not a for-profit business but as entertainment," vendor Jessie Torres said.
The Park Service could reclaim the land and shut down the swap meet if the Department of the Interior felt the swap meet violated the deed restrictions. A prospect that worries vendors, but it hasn't happened.
"It seems like maybe the federal government doesn't want to commit, we can't say, because the letter doesn't actually say, 'It is approved in its current state,'" Yamane said.
The Stadium Authority said it "remains on task and focused on completing a land exchange that will result in the lifting of a very long standing federal deed restriction on a portion of the Aloha Stadium property."
The Authority said the National Park Service said the swap meet could be seen as helping to make maximum use of the Stadium and its grounds.
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