Hearing this week on natatorium

Honolulu Advertiser
Advertiser staff and news services

The Honolulu City Council will hold a hearing Wednesday on two resolutions that could halt or scale back the Harris administration’s plan to make repairs to the crumbling Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium.

Council Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi said the resolutions, if approved, will show that the council does not approve of the administration’s plans.

The administration plans a $6.1 million project to shore up the natatorium.

“I don’t know why the administration has to rush to do this now, because they don’t have a plan and they don’t have the money to finish the pool,” Kobayashi said.

Save Kaimana Beach Coalition attorney Jim Bickerton said the resolutions would have no force of law. But he believes that if Mayor Jeremy Harris ignores them, the council has other powers, including revoking a shoreline management permit.

City Managing Director Ben Lee said it would be shameful if the natatorium were allowed to crumble into the ocean. He said stabilizing the deck and the seawalls of the natatorium would be in the interest of public safety and would prevent further deterioration of the pool.

The administration cannot allow the natatorium to collapse into the ocean and to lose the beach that the coalition is trying to save, Lee said.

In May, the city closed the natatorium restrooms after a section of the pool deck collapsed, leaving a gaping hole at the edge of the bleachers on the mauka wall.

The city received reports from two firms that the entire structure is at risk of collapsing and that work should be done to shore up the pool deck and stabilize the seawalls.

Six of the nine City Council members told The Advertiser in August that they would prefer to have the administration tear down the pool portion, leaving simply the restored facade that fronts Kalakaua Avenue.