Mayor vows to make quick decision on Natatorium

Honolulu Star-Bulletin
By B.J. Reyes

A decision on the fate of the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium will come “sooner, rather than later,” but Mayor Mufi Hannemann says he has no specific timetable to decide the matter.

Hannemann said yesterday he wants to thoroughly review a recommendation by a task force convened to study all options for the aging structure.

The task force concluded a series of public meetings on Thursday with a 9-3 vote to demolish the Natatorium and build two groins for a beach. The monument’s arch will be preserved and relocated nearby.

“Everyone had a chance to contribute their input,” Hannemann told reporters in his office yesterday. “I want to review it very carefully, but I’m very mindful of the fact that there’s still folks who want for us to keep the pool and the Natatorium as is.

“I’ve said from the beginning that this is a very complicated process.”

Although Hannemann is not bound by the task force’s recommendation, “the outcome certainly validated many of the points me and my administration have made about this,” he said.

In his State of the City address, Hannemann said he was considering demolishing the pool — which the city closed in 1979 — and moving the familiar 100-ton archway and its four stone eagles.

The task force was convened in May to weigh all options for the 82-year-old structure where Duke Kahanamoku once swam laps.

Supporters of the Natatorium said after the task force meeting they would continue pursuing all avenues to try and save the historic structure.

The city estimated demolition and relocation costs at $15.1 million, while the cost to stabilize the structure and restore the saltwater pool was estimated at $57 million.

“Obviously money’s going to be a challenge, from the city’s standpoint, to follow through with some of the things we have in mind,” Hannemann said.