Editor's note: This is the third part of a series of articles regarding a land dispute involving Hal's Angels Football Association, Guam Rugby Club and the Chamorro Land Trust Commission.

In Part 3 of a multipart series, on Jan. 13, Hal’s Angels Football Association President Ivan Shiroma accused Guam Rugby Club of taking advantage of the organization’s dying father, illegally securing a Chamorro Land Trust lease, and not being good neighbors.

Ivan Shiroma stated GRC has never helped remove illegally dumped trash and has not built HAFA a practice field, a condition Shiroma contends was stipulated between a handshake deal with Hal Shiroma and GRC.

Hal Shiroma, former HAFA president, died in April 2002 from bladder cancer.

“Despite the continued problems, GRC has acted as a good community member and has continued to assist Mr. (Ivan) Shiroma and HAFA with the construction of an alternate multi-use practice field,” stated GRC. “Additionally, Mr. Tony Costa of the GRC has arranged the donation and supply of over 3,000 cubic yards of fill at a value of $87,000.”

Rugby denies Shiroma’s accusations

GRC, denying Ivan Shiroma’s claims, called them “widely inaccurate.”

“Legal advice was followed, public hearings were completed, and all documentation and conditions set by GovGuam and CLTC were met by GRC,” they wrote.

Rugby and football hold leases

Hal’s Angels and Guam Rugby both claim legal rights to the land, both possess CLTC leases.

The Wettengel Rugby Field, located behind the football field, has been Guam Rugby Club’s home since 1997. The club has hosted numerous events there, including the 1999 South Pacific Games.

Ross Morrison, a GRC board member, said Wettengel field was granted to GRC in the late 1990s through a government Adopt a Park initiative. He said the field was officially transferred to the CLTC in 2002, and the rugby club was granted a 20-year license to the land.

In 1983, a handshake deal between Ivan Shiroma’s father, the late Hal Shiroma, and the Gov. Ricardo J. Bordallo administration allowed the football association the use of the multiacre property.

“Back in the day, before 1983, before Land Trust, Bordallo and the government gave my dad the authority to develop that whole field, that whole area,” Ivan Shiroma said.

In 2008, CLTC licensed the land to the football association.

Access denied

In August 2019, citing the need to build a practice field and eliminate illegal dumping, Ivan Shiroma locked the easement to Wettengel Rugby Field.

The easement, located on Santa Monica Ave. in Dededo, is the only access point to the rugby pitch. Since the closure, GRC’s home of more than two decades has fallen in disrepair.

“As a result of the closure of the accessway, the community and the organization has not been able to gain access to the GRC rugby field since August 2019, affecting a large number of youth athletes and club players,” GRC wrote. “The fields' grass playing surfaces are severely damaged due to lack of maintenance, and as we await a positive response from the CLTC to grant temporary access.”

In September 2010, CLTC sent a letter and a site map to Ivan Shiroma granting GRC permission to use the accessway.

“The survey map identifies a 40-foot public access and utilities right of way easement from Santa Monica Ave. to the rugby field,” stated the CLTC. “There shall be no obstruction on the public access and utilities right of ways.”

In April 2017, in an amended site map, the Department of Public Works, Guam Power Authority and Guam Waterworks Authority removed the easement.

“Unbeknownst to the GRC organization, Mr. Ivan Shiroma had been taking actions … with various GovGuam departments to eliminate the Santa Monica Ave. public accessway and utility right of way,” GRC wrote.

In Ivan Shiroma’s letter to The Guam Daily Post, he accused GRC of not allowing HAFA use of its field after Supertyphoon Pongsona damaged Angels field in 2002.

GRC said they denied HAFA’s request because their field also sustained damage, and a growing demand precluded them from loaning the field.

“To clarify, the GRC rugby field was also damaged and had to be rebuilt,” stated GRC. “GRC had to decline any requests to use the rugby field due to the existing and increased demand from youth and school programs.

“The island’s only rugby field was unable to handle the additional rugby and football traffic.”

GRC said HAFA went ahead and used the field anyway.

“Mr. Shiroma and HAFA then proceeded to illegally use the GRC rugby field for football use without authorization. This significantly damaged the grass playing surface,” GRC wrote. “HAFA was advised in 2010 by the CLTC to cease all activities on the GRC rugby field.”

Despite the contentious atmosphere, GRC feels the two opposing sports organizations can occupy the same space.

“We believe that there is room on our beautiful island for all sports to coexist for the benefit of the community,” they wrote.

A CLTC hearing is set for today at 1 p.m.

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