Council committee urges halt to Natatorium work

Honolulu Advertiser
Advertiser Staff Report

A key City Council committee yesterday urged Mayor Jeremy Harris’ administration not to spend $6.6 million for emergency work on the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium pool and deck structure until final plans for the pool are complete.

A resolution, passed yesterday by the council’s budget committee, awaits full council approval.

It is nonbinding, and council members said they realized the administration might ignore it.

City officials said yesterday the goal is still to make emergency repairs to the historic structure and pool after the collapse of a section of the deck in May.

“We need to do repairs as soon as possible to protect people,” said Tim Steinberger, director of the city Department of Design and Construction.

Reports from two engineering firms found the entire structure at risk of collapse, and that work should be done to shore up the deck and stabilize the sea walls.

Residents and community activists have debated for more than a decade over what should be done with the pool and decorative archway, built in 1927 to honor World War I veterans from Hawai’i.

Yesterday, the Kaimana Beach Coalition continued to urge that the pool portion be torn down and replaced with a beach dedicated to veterans.

Others said the entire structure should be restored to its original grandeur, and tearing the pool down would cost more and trigger complex environmental regulations.

The city spent $4 million to repair the natatorium’s concrete bleachers and adjoining memorial wall before a 1999 lawsuit stopped additional work.