By now you’ve heard that the mayor’s task force voted this week to support demolishing the Natatorium and replacing it with a beach.
This vote did not surprise us; the lines in the sand were drawn early. We knew that the battle was uphill, given that this was the mayor’s own task force and that the mayor advocates demolition.
The vote does nothing to change our position on preservation of the Natatorium. It does nothing to quell the vigor with which we are working to block attempts by the city to demolish the War Memorial.
If and when Mayor Hannemann takes steps to start demolition, he will find, as Friends of the Natatorium President Peter Apo told the news media after Thursday’s vote, that the legal path is “long and treacherous.” And we intend to be there every foot, yard and mile along the way.
In an August legal memorandum from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to the city, the mayor was cautioned that there are very formidable legal and administrative hurdles in place that protect the Natatorium.
It would cost $14 million to stabilize the structure, preserving long-term options, while retaining even in the short term the use of the restrooms and parking and adding access to the now-closed bleachers. The demolition of the entire structure, including loss of the restrooms, parking and volleyball courts, is conservatively estimated at more than $15 million. We believe stabilizing the pool makes fiscal as well as moral sense.
Stay tuned. The fat lady has yet to sing. This isn’t over yet.