Monday, October 5, 2009

Now Six Natatorium Task Force Members Recommend Restoration

Three more of the Mayor's Task Force Members, Hannie H. Anderson, Art A. Caleda and Brian L. Keaulana recommended restoration of the Natatorium in the dissenting opinion submitted to the Mayor today.  They join Fred W. Ballard, Oahu Veterans Council Executive Director; Donna L. Ching, Friends of the Natatorium Vice President and Kiersten Faulkner, Historic Hawai‘i Foundation Executive Director in recommending the restoration of the memorial.  The seventeen member task force appointed by the Mayor voted 9-3 in favor of demolition at its September 25th meeting.  Anderson, Caleda and Keaulana were not present for that vote.

The text of the dissenting opinion follows.

Mayor’s Natatorium Task Force
Dissenting Opinion

Stabilizing the pool is the most fiscally, environmentally and morally sensible course of action.

COST: Stabilizing is cheaper than demolishing
The City estimates it will cost $14 million to stabilize the Natatorium and preserve long-term options. Furthermore, stabilization would retain the use of essential restrooms and parking and add access to the now-closed bleachers where people could sit and enjoy a panoramic view of Mamala Bay and Waikīkī.

Demolition of the entire structure, including loss of the restrooms, bleachers, parking and volleyball courts, is conservatively estimated at more than $15 million. Repairing damage to the reef, replacing the demolished restrooms and showers would add another $2 million to that for a total of over $17 million. The loss of parking would most likely be unrecoverable.

REGULATORY AND LEGAL CHALLENGES: Stabilizing would have the most expedited permitting process. Demolition could face a protracted legal battle.

Proposals to demolish the historic structure will face regulatory, permitting and legal challenges that will be unpredictable, time-consuming, and expensive and cause additional delays.

In August, legal counsel from the National Trust for Historic Preservation issued a letter summarizing a lengthy list of state and federal laws and regulations that would have to be observed and approvals that would need to be obtained before demolition could begin. Among the applicable measures are the federal Rivers and Harbors Act, Clean Water Act, National Historic Preservation Act, National Environmental Policy Act, EPA regulations, and the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Additional discretionary permits include State Historic Preservation review, Coastal Zone Management, Environmental Impact Statement, Special Management Area Use Permit, Shoreline Setback Variance, and Special District Permit. Preservation advocates and veterans groups have pledged to steadfastly resist any attempts to demolish the war monument. Legal battles could add years to any demolition process and, in fact, might never result in final approval.

ENVIRONMENTAL RISKS: Stabilizing is safer than demolishing

Demolition of the Natatorium and creation of an artificial new beach risks destabilizing the existing Sans Souci beach; altering the sedimentation patterns on near-shore reefs, harming marine life and surf breaks; and causing beach erosion.

The debris from the demolition would take space in a landfill, and such demolition would cause the loss of embedded energy inherent in existing structures, as well as the expenditure of new energy for the conveyance of materials.

REDUCES LIABILITY: Stabilizing the Natatorium reduces the City’s liability from the deteriorating structure.

Because it can be done quickly and without a protracted legal battle, stabilization would be the most efficient way to mitigate the city’s exposure to liability created by the deteriorating pool.

MORAL CHOICES: Demolition destroys a war memorial on the State and National Historic Registers.

Act 15 specifically states the “living” War Memorial is intended as a swimming pool. Demolishing the pool is demolishing the memorial itself. Reconstructing the arched façade elsewhere does nothing to preserve a memorial dedicated to the sacrifices of Hawai’i’s citizens who gave all in service to their communities, nation, and world.

Stabilizing preserves the option to restore the living war memorial to use, thereby properly honoring 102 servicemen from Hawai’i killed in World War I. It also preserves a piece of the history, architecture and culture of Hawai‘i and the nation.

Stewardship of the historic, cultural and natural resources of Hawai‘i is the ethical and moral obligation of the people of Hawai‘i.

TOURISM IMPACTS: The Natatorium could be a major tourism asset.

A preserved and eventually restored Waikīkī War Memorial Natatorium would be a vital part of Waikīkī’s “sense of place.” It is in the best interest of Hawai‘i to preserve its uniqueness and identity for the benefit of all its residents as well as its visitors.


We, the undersigned members of the Mayor’s Task Force, support the immediate stabilization of the Waikīkī War Memorial Natatorium.

We recommend immediate completion of the abandoned 2005 plan to strengthen, repair and stabilize the structure’s frame (the sea walls and pool deck) and reopening of the bleacher area in order that residents and visitors have access to the War Memorial and spectacular makai vista.

We further recommend that the city engage in dialogue with state and federal agencies, non-profit organizations, business organizations and other stakeholders to craft a public-private partnership for the long-term rehabilitation, maintenance and operation of the facility.


Hannie H. Anderson, Na Wahine O Ke Kai Co-Founder and Race Director
Fred W. Ballard, Oahu Veterans Council Executive Director
Art A. Caleda, WWII Filipino-American Veterans of Hawai‘i President
Donna L. Ching, Friends of the Natatorium Vice President
Kiersten Faulkner, Historic Hawai‘i Foundation Executive Director
Brian L. Keaulana, Ocean Safety Expert