The Abercrombie/Caldwell agreement

April 30, 2013

Great news! Governor Abercrombie and Mayor Caldwell have agreed to institute the 2009 Waikiki Natatorium Task Force recommendation to remove the bleachers and swimming pool and replace them with a Memorial Beach which will include new bathrooms and reconstructed arches. This plan will cost $18.4 million compared to $69 million for full demolition and reconstruction of the existing structure and swimming pool.

The announcement was made on April 30, 2013 at 11am in the area between the Natatorium and the Aquarium. The Governor, Mayor, State and City officials along with a cadre of people who support the creation of a Memorial Beach were in attendance. I received a call from the City in the late afternoon of April 29th and was invited to attend an announcement ceremony regarding the future of the Natatorium. Further, I was asked to invite key people who had been instrumental in the process of advocating for a beach. As I only had a few hours to invite people, I narrowed the list to those of you who have contributed time, energy, legal council, scientific, medical, oceanographic, technical, historical, and spiritual expertise. If you were not contacted it was not because we do not appreciate your contribution to the cause, I just ran out of time. Fortunately you can watch most of the event on the news section of this site.

In attendance was Mrs. Cecilia Blackfield, a founding member of the Scenic Hawaii Foundation. She was invited by the City and shared with the assembled group that she had contacted all living relatives of the fallen soldiers listed on the Natatorium memorial stone and asked if they would mind if the Natatorium bleachers and pool be removed and replaced with a Memorial Beach. She said that the majority agreed that it would be a good idea.

It is a great day when the Mayor and Governor can agree to bring about this result. Obviously we are delighted with their decision and will support them in moving forward with the implementation of the plan. We are encouraged that our efforts as a grassroots organization have borne fruit. It is an affirmation that citizen participation in the political process can make a difference. While not easy, it is possible. We will not celebrate until the final result is achieved and we can all join together to welcome the birth of a beautiful Memorial Beach.

Rick Bernstein
Kaimana Beach Coalition