Letters to the Editor

Events at beach need to be free

Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Recently you published an article about the Natatorium by Robert Fox and David Cheever (“Volleyball venue at Natatorium fits memorial’s original intent,” Star-Advertiser, Nov. 4).

I think the public should be informed that admission to events such as beach volleyball, music and hula programs will cost money.

Keeping Hawaii Hawaii is what we should do. Adaptive reuse of the Natatorium, as Fox and Cheever propose, is another instance of private interests usurping the public’s benefit. They neglected to mention that the public would have to pay admission to watch events such as beach volleyball, music and hula shows.

We need a free public beach for all of the people.

Mandy Bowers

Return Natatorium to the community

Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Jim Bickerton hits it on the head when he states that the public is increasingly being hemmed in by private interests who control most of the shoreline from the west side of Waikiki to Diamond Head. (“Natatorium planning kept under wraps,” Star-Advertiser, Sept. 23).

Public access to beaches and shorelines is paramount in Hawaii. For too long private money has dictated who controls the state’s shorelines that are rightfully the public’s domain.

Commercial beach operations have greatly diminished the public’s ability to enjoy whatour tax dollars have paid for, and the Natatorium should not be appropriated by any single-use group that will serve mainly commercial interests. The so-called repurposing proposal for sand volleyball courts and concert venues, ostensibly for the public’s good, is pure shibai.

Preserve the arches and restore the beach. Continue to honor the memory of our World War I veterans and return this valuable resource to the people.

Philip Cedillos
Kula, Maui

Panel had best idea for natatorium

Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Historically and culturally, the Waikiki shoreline from Diamond Head to the present Moana Hotel predates the War Memorial Natatorium and is about Hawaiian settlement. It is also the area where Kahekili and his warriors landed to conquer Oahu, and later where Kamehameha and his warriors landed to take control of the island.

The Waikiki Natatorium Commission met for several months to resolve the fate of the natatorium. Much time and effort resulted in a decision to demolish the pool and bleachers, retain the arches and return the beachfront to a public-access beach.

Fiscally this makes sense. Millions of dollars would be needed to rebuild. Maintenance would be expensive. Our priority should be schools and parks, which suffer from a lack of maintenance funds.

Historically and culturally, a sandy beachfront for public access to the ocean would be best.

Mandy Bowers

Restore arch, beach for war memorial

Honolulu Star-Bulletin

In its Dec. 5 editorial, the Star-Bulletin asserted that if the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium is not brought back to its original condition, the memory of our World War I veterans would be disrespected. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Kaimana Beach Coalition supports a plan to redesign a nonfunctional swimming pool and decrepit bleachers into a functional, two-acre memorial beach with a spectacular near-shore swimming channel running from Kaimana Beach through the demolished natatorium pool and up to the Queen’s Surf groin. This oceanfront area, dredged 75 years ago to create the natatorium pool, promises to become Hawaii’s premier near-shore swimming course.

A restored memorial arch framing the new beach, new bathroom facilities, carefully constructed groins to protect sand from erosion and a beach volleyball court would make this addition to Kaimana Beach a welcome improvement to our precious Waikiki shoreline.

The memorial beach would become a valuable resource reflecting our community’s respect for veterans. It also would provide new recreational opportunities and a healthy, child-friendly environment while saving millions of dollars in maintenance costs.

We must take a deep breath and join Mayor-elect Mufi Hannemann in moving into the future by recreating a war memorial beach that will stand the test of time, and show proper respect for our honored veterans and, just as importantly, for our community.

We have a new mayor and a new plan. It’s time for Mayor Harris to let go of his failed dream and not waste any more taxpayer money.

More information on the natatorium and an artist’s rendition of its future state can be seen at www.savekaimanabeach.org

Rick Bernstein
Kaimana Beach Coalition

Replace structure with new monument

Honolulu Star-Bulletin

I have a suggestion regarding the natatorium. The building is old and probably rotten through and through and is really not worth repairing. As far as I know, it has not been used by the public for many years — it just sits there, gradually rotting away.

Why not raze the structure, clean up the site to park-like standards and erect a very nice monument — a memorial to the World War I veterans to whom the natatorium is dedicated. It could be a user-friendly fountain with a wading pool or some other thing which would be attractive to visitors to the park, something that the public could use and which would make them happy that it is there.

Herbert Ingram
Wichita, Kansas
Frequent Hawaii visitor

Preserve the arch, restore the beach

Honolulu Star-Bulletin

After seeing the city pour money and time into the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium, and seeing little result, I have lost any hope that the city can deal with the situation. Is the city so overwhelmed with money that it must throw money into this bottomless pit? Is the taxpayer so eager to be taxed that we must tax for the natatorium again and again? The time has come to go in another direction, and ask what we now want.

What I usually hear is that we should preserve the arch. If not, another memorial for the World War I veterans should be created at the site. But in the main, the area should be cleared as much as possible to create a beach. A beach is what we want there. We do not need a constant stream of construction projects there — hailed with great fanfare by politicians — only to fall into disrepair, a sort of monstrosity by the sea. The budget is tight, and some taxpayers could use tax relief, so let’s do a minimal amount at the natatorium, such as preserving the arch. And restoring the beach there would be very nice.

Mark Terry

Natatorium facade won’t be torn down

Honolulu Star-Bulletin

Contrary to the statement your Dec. 5 editorial makes, Mayor-elect Mufi Hannemann will not “tear down” the Waikiki War Memorial at Kaimana Beach. The Kaimana Beach Coalition’s plan, which Hannemann endorses, will keep the beautiful Beaux Arts facade intact. It is the pool and bleacher structures, already so badly decayed and forever unusable, which will be removed. This will make more beach available. The facade will serve as the entrance to the beach park.

Spending more than $6 million more to “stabilize” a structure that will never be used is an unwise use of city monies that might well be used to better effect elsewhere.

“Respect for our past and gratitude to our soldiers” will be fully in evidence with the beauty of the facade, as well as the plaque opposite it, kept for all to see.

Kristine Woodall

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

Please stop wasting money on Natatorium

Honolulu Advertiser

I was born and raised in Hawai’i, and although I am sad to see what has become of a favorite place that was part of my teen and young adult years, I cannot see sinking 6.2 million taxpayer dollars into what is a too-expensive and lost cause. So much money has already been sunk into this facility with, really, nothing to show for it. It’s just too late.

The money would be better spent on creating a new memorial commemorating those who served, and those who were lost, in World War I, and locating it close to the present memorial — the Natatorium. I think a very nice memorial could be built for much less than $6.2 million. There are so many more worthy things that are really needed in the City & County of Honolulu, including assistance for the poor and homeless.

Mayor Harris: Please, please stop wasting money on restoring the Natatorium. It just isn’t worth it!

A. Matsuda

Natatorium has long been problem, danger

Honolulu Advertiser

I remember the Natatorium in the 1950s. There was a vending machine that sold chocolate-covered frozen bananas. At the entrance to the lockers was a dip filled with freshwater so you could rinse your feet off and not track sand into the showers and restroom stalls. Walking through the entrance to the Nat, you knew you were in a special place built for a special purpose. These were nice touches and bring back fond memories.

The pool itself was a big problem. The structure was crumbling even back then. The water quality was poor, and the bloom of algae was as thick as pea soup. There were barnacles growing underwater on the walls, and as I climbed out, I cut my foot on one. My friend got stung by a jellyfish. The murky waters made swimming an uneasy pleasure.

Decades later, people still debate the fate of a crumbling pool. At a time when funds are scarce and open space and beaches are scarcer, it is not a reasonable option to keep the pool. It is a dangerous liability that Honolulu cannot afford. Give the space back to the beach, open the public restrooms and even put in a vending machine selling chocolate-covered bananas for nostalgia.

The public will always remember heroes of the past each time they enter and exit the hallowed memorial archway.

Carol Ataki Wyban
Kurtistown, Big Island