By Chad Blair
The Public Land Development Corporation could help resolve the longstanding morass over what to do with the Waikiki Natatorium.
That comes from Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who spoke to Civil Beat and KITV Tuesday in executive chambers following a media event.
The governor this week fought back against critics of the controversial PLDC, which was created by the Hawaii Legislature only last year but has come under harsh criticism recently from groups already calling for its repeal.
Though the agency has yet to begin work on a project to make better use of government lands, environmental, labor and Native Hawaiian groups argue the PLDC has too much flexibility to bypass important laws intended to protect the state’s natural assets.
On Tuesday, Abercrombie reiterated that the agency could help with projects that have broad support such as workforce housing, new schools and assisted-living facilities.
He also named a specific project — the Waikiki Natatorium, a swimming pool on the coast near Diamond Head that has been closed to the public since 1979.
“The natatorium is a good example — very good example,” said the governor. “The natatorium has deteriorated steadily now for decades, and every time somebody comes up with an idea — right? — there appears to be again the idea that you have suspicions and people rush in and they shoot down those particular ideas, and then when they go away everybody leaves. And it continues to deteriorate.”