Governor, mayor weigh Waikiki Natatorium options

KITV4 News
By Catherine Cruz


Waikiki councilmember urges community outreach

HONOLULU — The sad state of the historic structure, boils down to money, or the lack of it.

The dilemma of what to do, has ping-ponged back and forth from restoration to demolition.

The Kaimana Beach Coalition, which supports demolition, questioned why the city wasn’t more transparent about the fact that the work on the almost completed EIS, was suspended back in May.

“There was no reason for that to amount to anything of significance, because we didn’t know where we were going with the talks with the governor,” said Mayor Peter Carlisle.

It has been three months since those talks occurred.
The city maintains, it could still move ahead with the completion of the EIS demolition option, even though the governor prefers preservation.

“There are no options off the table yet, but this is something that can be looked at,” said Carlisle.

The governor said the restoration of the crumbling war memorial was one of his campaign priorities.

“We can’t continue. It’s disrespectful, number one. And number two, the sheer liability is growing by the day. And number three, everyone wants to see that venue which is very, very local, come to a successful conclusion, resolution of the issues. It’s just falling to wrack and ruin,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Among the possible uses of the Natatorium is filling in the pool for use as a volleyball stadium but the governor declined to elaborate on that option.

As for the fears about commercialization of that area, No, there won’t be anything like that,” assured Abercrombie.

But those who live nearby, or who frequent the area, are nervous about this latest reversal in the natatorium’s future.

“We need to make sure what every is decided on whatever use that it is consistent with the use by residents, hotel guests, businesses, kamaaina from all over the island.

It is one of the most popular places for families, picnickers and beachgoers to go, said Waikiki councilmember Stanley Chang.

The city’s Director of Design and Construction Lori Kahikina said she believes suspending the EIS at this point when it could be modified, could end up saving taxpayers money, not wasting it.

She clarified that if a different planning and engineering firm were hired to look at filing in the pool, it could duplicate some of the research that is already underway.