The city of Honolulu is starting work on Monday to correct what it describes as “hazardous conditions” caused by cracks in the walls of the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium.
Now, of course, the Friends of the Natatorium support doing what is necessary to ensure the safety of swimmers on nearby Kaimana Beach.
But isn’t it ironic? The city is acting now on an emergency basis to mitigate a safety problem it caused and could easily have prevented.
The city neglected the Natatorium for decades. It allowed this historic icon and civic treasure to deteriorate. And – in 2005 – it canceled a fully approved and funded restoration effort that would have reopened the pool and made it better than ever.
In fact, when the project was canceled, more than $5 million had been spent and, among other improvements, the bleachers, bathrooms and lifeguard offices had already been renovated.
We agree with reporter Curtis Lum, who blogged for the Pacific Business News that “it’s time for the City and County of Honolulu to decide” what to do about the Natatorium.
We believe, of course, that the decision should be to preserve, restore and renew the Natatorium. We believe that for all sorts of good reasons, including the fact that Kaimana Beach will erode away if the protective Natatorium walls fall into the sea.
But, as Curtis writes, the time to decide and move forward is now, “before Father Time and Mother Nature decide for us.”
What you can do
Write to Mayor Peter Carlisle and to Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Tell them that you think the facts are on the side of preservation and restoration, and that demolition would be more costly and environmentally harmful. Tell them you think that the time for action is now. You can consult this document to help you craft your message.
The city can do something with the Natatorium. I always thought it would make a great beach volleyball venue. It’s larger enough for two courts. It has the seating capacity. It will have to make improvements on the facilities such as bathrooms, an area for food and gift vendors and of course parking. The old pool, well maybe they can fill it with boulders, rock, dirt and sand as a top soil. Maybe use the old pool as a structure support for the courts then cover or bury the sides for the protection of those who swim there. It will create a great back drop for national televised sport shows. I can see high schools and maybe different districts forming teams to compete against each other for a beach volleyball title. With Diamond head and Waikiki beach in the background, how can you go wrong. Especially if it’s a televised event.