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.
Kurtistown, Big Island