Community rallies to save longtime bowling alley from demolition

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Pali Lanes is one of only four public bowling alleys left on Oahu.

A grassroots effort hopes to save it from closing.

More than 5,000 people signed a petition to save the bowling alley, and presented their case to the Kailua Neighborhood Board Thursday night.

No doubt, Kailua town has changed a lot, especially over the past decade. 

But a landmark that’s remained is Pali Lanes, open since 1961. That’s set to change next year.

“We’ve got to be out by January,” Pali Lanes owner Art Machado said.

He said he asked land owner Alexander and Baldwin for a five- to 10-year lease so they could upgrade the alley, but was told no.

He and thousands of other bowlers and members of the community are trying to save Pali Lanes. 

“We need something for our children and kupuna and all that,” Machado said.

Other than Pali Lanes, Aiea Bowl, Leeward Bowl, and Barber’s Point Bowling Center are the only public alleys left on Oahu. 

It seems easier to bowl a perfect game these days than to keep a bowling alley open.

“At one time, we had 11,000 bowlers sanctioned and 32 bowling centers. Now what, we have only four commercial houses and five military,” Machado said.

Alexander and Baldwin bought the commercial business district of Kailua in 2013 from longtime owner Kaneohe Ranch, and asked the community for input.

“The bottom line is we feel we’ve been doing everything we can to live up to our end of the agreement with the owners of the bowling alley, but ultimately, what all of this is about is how we can provide the kind of gathering space that the community is asking for,” Alexander and Baldwin spokesman Darren Pai said.

That means ultimately knocking down the bowling alley and creating a park.
     
Pai says they’ve been working to have the leagues relocated to K-Bay Lanes on Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe. 

“But the military, with what’s going on in the world, it’s hard for the people to get on bases,” Machado said. “It’s real restricted, not like 10 to 15 years ago. You can get a pass and no problem. Not anymore. So where are the bowlers going?” 

Also on the Pali Lanes property is Hale Kealoha, a Hawaiian food restaurant that also provides meals to some schools. 

Alexander and Baldwin is working with them to find another spot to reopen.

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