The on-again, off-again plans to do something with the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium seem to be back on again. And the end result could mean the end of the eyesore. KITV4’s Catherine Cruz has new developments for the aging memorial some groups hope can be saved.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell has been in office for less than a month.
But already he’s diving into an issue that’s dogged the previous mayor.
Caldwell says after meeting with the governor twice, he intends to resume the Natatorium’s environmental impact statement.
The EIS had been quietly suspended by Mayor Peter Carlisle last year while the governor explored taking back the structure, which is state-owned.
“The pool is not usable as you know. For a while, the governor talked about a beach volleyball facility, but discovering that we’d have to rebuild the entire platform there, it’s very expensive. So hopefully the option’s gonna be that we remove the pool, put [in] groins, build a beach” said Mayor Caldwell.
The EIS was to study the option of demolishing the memorial. It was close to completion when Carlisle put the brakes on it, and critics say internal emails show the city tried to deceive the public about what was happening.
The watchdog group that uncovered attempts to keep the development under wraps likes the way things are headed.
“It’s very good news – it shows that when people actually get around to studying the issue, and the city did before and now the state has, and they come to the same conclusion,” said Jim Bickerton of the Kaimana Beach Coalition.
The coaltion’s goal is to keep this last area of the Waikiki shoreline free, open and public.
“The governor is concerned about the parking lot. He would like to restore it to a lawn and would I,” said Caldwell.
The demolition plan calls for rebuilding a new arch farther inland.
“The beach solution with the preservation of the arches has been found by the original 2009 commission to be the low-cost solution. So yes, it costs money but less than all the other options,” said Bickerton.
The governor has proposed $2 million in the state budget to go toward the Natatorium project although it may take much, much more than that. In Waikiki, Catherine Cruz, KITV4 News.
Our calls to the Friends of the Natatorium, which had fought to restore the monument, were not returned.