The fight for the Natatorium: On to the next round

Mayor Hannemann has now endorsed his own task force’s recommendation that the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium be razed.

This is hardly news. It was no surprise in September that an advisory panel appointed by the mayor would provide the advice he wanted to hear. It is no surprise now that he has adopted a recommendation that tracked so closely with his own often-expressed preference.

Hannemann’s so-called “partial preservation” plan would destroy the entire War Memorial — pool, bathrooms, bleachers, volleyball courts and parking lot — thereby wasting more than $4 million in completed, much-used improvements and restorative work. Hannemann’s plan for a facsimile of the arched doorway to be rebuilt inland is not preservation in any sense of the word.

Here are some things to remember:

  • The pool itself is the memorial tribute to the fallen of World War I. The arches are merely a decorative doorway to the War Memorial Natatorium. Rebuilding the door elsewhere is NOT preserving the memorial.

  • The fight to preserve the War Memorial is not over. The mayor won this round, in an arena of his own choosing. Preservationists, environmentalists and members of the Native Hawaiian, veteran, and ocean sport and safety communities will have a better shot at victory when the fight moves to venues that he does not control.

  • Those venues include administrative hearings and perhaps, eventually, the courts. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has pointed out that there are at least five federal environmental, commercial and historic preservation laws in the path of the mayor’s demolition plan. Together, the NTHP says, those statutes constitute “very significant legal constraints on any proposal to for the city to demolish the Natatorium.”

  • There is plenty that you can do to help save the Natatorium. You can write to the mayor and members of the City Council. You can write letters to the editors of the Advertiser and Star-Bulletin; tell them that you favor stabilizing the Natatorium and preserving it for eventual full restoration. You can contribute to the Friends of the Natatorium. And you can stay informed, by subscribing to this blog [see right-hand column on this page] or following us on Facebook or Twitter.

More details on why stabilization and preservation are the better alternative are available here. Thank you for your support.

Waikiki at sunset from the War Memorial Natatorium

Categories: News coverage, Statement, and Uncategorized.