City’s changed position on Natatorium work

Honolulu Star-Bulletin

On Dec. 3 the Star-Bulletin chronicled Mufi Hannemann’s strong statements about halting the city’s $6 million repair job at the Waikiki Natatorium. Since then, Managing Director Ben Lee has stated that despite the mayor-elect’s intentions, the city will move forward with the project. The public should know that Lee’s position contradicts a previous pledge made by city officials.

On Nov. 24, I met with a delegation from the city to review our concerns over potentially serious harm to our fish and facility if the Natatorium work moves forward. The city’s delegation included a city attorney, the city’s project manager, the deputy director for customer service and the president of the construction company, Healy Tibbits. All agreed that if initial pile-driving tests resulted in stress to our fish, they would immediately halt work until alternatives can be implemented.

We also asked what would happen if Mayor-elect Hannemann stated his opposition to the repair effort. The unequivocal response from this group was that the project would not move forward. Unfortunately, Lee has taken a different position.

We believe it is a colossal waste of taxpayer money to begin a project that the new mayor has wisely stated he will halt. It is also a strong indication that the outgoing administration intends to push past obstacles that stand in the way of its agenda.

Each year more than 300,000 people enjoy the Waikiki Aquarium. We sincerely hope it and its unique collection of animals will not become the next obstacle the city pushes aside in its rush to dump more money into a doomed project.

Dr. Andrew Rossiter
Director, Waikiki Aquarium