New emails raise more questions about Waikiki Natatorium talks

KITV4 News


HONOLULU – The Kaimana Beach Coalition released more emails this weekend that raises questions about the influence of a group that it is at odds with.

The Friends of the Natatorium which supports total restoration of the war memorial, offered to have the head of the Waikiki Improvement Association write the directive to allow the state take back control of the war memorial, Rick Egged wants to make it clear.

“I didn’t volunteer to do it, I was volunteered,” said Egged.

Egged believes, the unusual request for someone in the private sector do government work, was because back when he worked as planning director for former Governor Ben Cayetano, he actually drafted a letter rescinding the executive order that transfered the state-owned natatorium to the city to operate.

Egged said the letter was never sent, because then mayor Jeremy Harris announced plans to renovate the memorial.

Egged wanted to emphasis that the Waikiki Improvement Association’s position has been clear all along.

“We don’t favor either side into the discussion, into the future of the natatorium we simply want to facilitate something being done,” said Egged.

Egged said he personally favors a new aquarium.

“Whether it’s a new beach, or an aquarium, or restoration with a volleyball court, all of those things would be positive, but allowing it to crumble is not.”

Donna Ching, of the Friends group initially told KITV this weekend she had no involvement in the project talks, although the emails show otherwise.

She then released this statement: “The Friends of the Natatorium fully support the governor’s initiative to have the state assume responsibility for the preservation of the war memorial natatorium.”

Ching also rebuffed any connection with the latest renovation effort and her job at Leo Daly, the architectural firm which the city paid to do renovation studies once before.

Meanwhile, the city has moved to make more emergency repairs to the natatorium.

One week after KITV showed pictures of the growing cracks along the natatorium walls and in the bathrooms, the city moved to cover them up.

$60,000 in emergency repairs which included concrete and fence work was completed Sept. 20.