Task force votes for demolition of Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium

Honolulu Advertiser
Advertiser Staff

A city task force voted today to recommend to the mayor that the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium be demolished, its arches relocated and a beach built in its place.

The task force voted 9-to-3 in favor of demolition. Four members of the group were absent. A city employee on the task force also voted in favor of demolition, but his vote was only to be used to break a tie.

The mayor will now make a final decision on the future of the historic site. He has previously supported demolition.

The city formed the task force in May.

The vote followed about an hour of discussion, during which several people on the task force made arguments on both sides of the issue.

After the vote, Friends of the Natatorium Vice President Donna Ching told the task force that, “We will continue to avidly pursue the preservation of the structure, including whatever fundraising and legal steps are necessary to support this iconic monument.”

Rick Bernstein, of the Kaimana Beach Coalition, said that he is happy with the vote.

“I get it about the emotional part of the natatorium and what it means to so many people who had their young days there,” he said, after the vote. “I feel that we did a noble thing in making it a memorial beach with the arches.”

The fate of the war memorial natatorium, with its swimming pool, bleachers and arched facade, has been in limbo since 1979, when it was shut down because of safety concerns. Since then, the site has continued to deteriorate, creating a multimillion-dollar problem for the city.

Today, the natatorium’s deck has massive holes where concrete has corroded or fallen away. The city has also warned for years that the deck and perimeter walls are collapse hazards.

The landmark is on the national and state registers of historic places.