Natatorium story in Honolulu Civil Beat: What does it mean?

Is this a step back? Or might it actually be a step forward?

Honolulu Civil Beat is out with this story quoting Mayor Peter Carlisle. He says the city is moving ahead with the environmental impact statement that would be required to execute former mayor Mufi Hannemann’s plan to demolish the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium.

Sounds dire.

But read closely. Mayor Carlisle does not say he thinks demolition is a done deal. He does not say that it’s his preferred alternative.

What the mayor does say is that “once the draft EIS is completed, I would like to review it along with the public comments.”

In other words, once the facts are there on paper, Mayor Carlisle is willing to take a fresh, objective look at the Hannemann proposal.

The Friends of the Natatorium think that’s good. As FoN board member Jill Byus Radke says in the Civil Beat story, once the EIS is complete, the city “should have all the facts to actually make a good decision.”

FoN Vice President Donna L. Ching agreed and said she is hopeful of winning the mayor’s backing — at least in principle — for preserving, restoring and reopening the Natatorium.

“I think Peter is committed to fairly and objectively looking at the stuff that I think the Hannemann administration had glossed over,” Ching said. “I think he clearly gets that restoration is something that makes sense.”

Ching added that the city obviously doesn’t have the money right now to pursue preservation and renewal. But she and Radke believe that a policy decision could start an effort to find the combination of public and private backing that would make restoration happen. Finally!

What can you do? Write to Mayor Carlisle and tell him that you think the facts are on the side of preservation and restoration, and that demolition would be more costly and environmentally harmful. You can consult this document to help you craft your message.

Meantime: Don’t forget that this Sunday, May 29, is your chance to show you support using the Natatorium for its intended purpose: to honor Hawai’i’s veterans and war dead. Come join the Friends of the Natatorium, veterans groups, and many others at the 23rd annual Natatorium Memorial Day observance. It’s at 10 a.m. on Sunday [note: not Monday.] Details here.

Mahalo.

Categories: Friends of the Natatorium, News coverage, and Uncategorized.

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