It’s been an on-going debate on what to do with the Natatorium. Just four days ago, a draft environmental impact statement was released.
It was only fitting to observe the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice in front of the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial with the new Centennial Memorial plaque proudly displayed. Some remembered the glory days of the Natatorium.
“I would always remember it as a place to come to swim on weekends,” said Josephine Keanu.
“You know Duke Kahanamoku trained here for his swimming, for the Olympic medal. So this site is rich in history,” said Ron Lam.
However, the facility’s disrepair could not be overlooked.
“This is absolutely disrespectful to our veterans, letting it crumble for 40 years,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
The process took a long time but last week a draft Environmental Impact Statement was released. The report looked at four alternatives: a Perimeter Deck, War Memorial beach, closed pool system, or no action at all.
“You know the preferred alternative in the report is a Perimeter Deck, so that the pool is kind of preserved. It may not look exactly like it does today,” said Mayor Caldwell.
Friends of the Natatorium tell us while anything can happen, the draft EIS is an opportunity to get the ball rolling.
“We’re pretty happy and pleased that the EIS came out the way it did, looking at an idea of preservation that is doable,” said Friends of the Natatorium President Mo Radke.
The Mayor says the Perimeter Deck could cost about $26-million and will start putting money in this year’s budget.
“We heard a lot from the private sector and Trust for Historic Preservation. They are saying they can raise this money and so I’m going to ask them to step up and show us the money,” said Mayor Caldwell.
Before the final publication of the EIS, public input will be considered.
“Those that have been sending letters and sending emails in support of preservation, we are going to get them fired back up,” said Radke, “and if the City and County of Honolulu is serious about it this time, then we’re right behind them all the way.”