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City to replace Natatorium pool with public memorial beach

By Gordon Pang

LAST UPDATED: 12:47 p.m. HST, Apr 30, 2013

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Mayor Kirk Caldwell today announced a partnership to develop a public memorial beach at the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium.

Under the plan, the state will hand over development of the site back to the city, which intends to tear down the pool, relocate the archway and create a new beach where the crumbling pool and stadium now stand.

The project is estimated to cost $18.4 million in 2015 dollars, city spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke said. Full restoration of the facility would have cost $69.4 million, he said.

“The city is open to state funding but is prepared to fund it if necessary,” Broder Van Dyke said. He noted that a $2 million earmark appropriation that Abercrombie put into the state budget this session was shot down by the Legislature.

An environmental impact study was paid for and started, but was halted by the Carlisle administration. That process will now restart, Broder Van Dyke said.

The agreement is a major development in the decades-long tug-of-war between those who want to keep the natatorium — built in 1927 as a monument to World War I veterans — and those who believe the dilapidated structure should be torn and replaced with something more useful.

The facility’s swimming pool was closed in 1979 due to disrepair. 

Abercrombie, in December, indicated that the pool itself will likely be demolished. “Right now it looks as if removal of the pool itself is a likely outcome,” the governor said then.

Further, he said of the facility’s dilapidated condition, “The natatorium simply can’t go on the way it is. It’s almost immoral.”

Officials from the state and city have been working together the last several months on a plan to address the future the facility, sources said.

Early last year, Abercrombie had indicated a preference for turning the grounds into a beach volleyball facility. He acknowledged in December, however, that such a plan is not feasible.

The Kaimana Beach Coalition, which favors tearing down the structure, and the Friends of the Natatorium, which supports full restoration, both objected to the beach volleyball facility idea.

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Anonymous wrote:
Where will the Aquarium go? Blasting out all that foundation will shake the Aquarium so badly the fish & animals will die. Does the Aquarium have expansion plans elsewhere?
on April 30,2013 | 11:06AM
inverse wrote:
I pretty sure the demolition experts they bring in who will handle the blasting expertly control the blasts and shock wave as to not upset the Aquarium fish and animals.
on April 30,2013 | 11:44AM
busterb wrote:
I was for the volleyball facility. Now that no one wants it, which seems the only logical idea to me. I say knock it down. If you don't fill in the pool, eventually the whole structure will come down anyway. Nature always wins.
on April 30,2013 | 11:19AM
gth wrote:
Beach volleyball would have been the best. Somewhere the public and UH could have shared and enjoyed.
on April 30,2013 | 02:55PM
Anonymous wrote:
Agreed. So sad that these two activist groups cannot have a meeting of the minds and realized that the best logical and cost effective solution is the volleyball court. UH now has beach volleyball, so what better venue than a seaside court with bleachers and restroom facilities already built right in. Keeping the arch and demolishing the rest would look hideous, like war ruins instead of the memorial it was supposed to be. Restoring the pool is ridiculous as well.
on April 30,2013 | 03:28PM
whs1966 wrote:
What does "...move in the archway..." mean? Should it read, "...move the archway..." If so, where to?
on April 30,2013 | 11:23AM
inverse wrote:
I interpret it as moving it toward the road and farther away from the restored beach
on April 30,2013 | 11:45AM
false wrote:
I just hope they use "certified" archway movers.
on April 30,2013 | 12:59PM
Psyche wrote:
They must have edited it, because is just see "relocate" now.
on April 30,2013 | 02:31PM
gsc wrote:
I'm glad both parties can come together and finally do something to this Historical Monument .
on April 30,2013 | 11:26AM
psherman wrote:
Lets see....watermain breaks everywhere, roads are horrible and we want to spend millions on beach infrastructure? Really?
on April 30,2013 | 11:33AM
inverse wrote:
The Natatorium was a total embarrassment and safety problem. It was time they removed the decrepit pool, kept the arch and reclaim the beach as it once was many decades ago.
on April 30,2013 | 11:48AM
oneputta wrote:
did you mean the rocky shoreline as exists all along that stretch of waterfront? look at the construction photos from 1927, there is no beach, just rocks and a five foot embankment.
on May 2,2013 | 09:41PM
ethan wrote:
I don't know if you've seen the water in the Natatorium pool lately, but i'm pretty sure "The Creature" lives in that black lagoon.
on April 30,2013 | 12:04PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
This sounds pretty reasonable to me. Nothing would make everybody happy but this way the monument remains, the useless pool goes bye bye and we get a beach back. I hope the beach can be configured so as not to erode too quickly - that is always a challenge in that area. Also, I didn't see where we got the $18 million - was that just spare change in Kirk's sofa? Anyway, good to see State/City cooperation.
on April 30,2013 | 11:58AM
yskeulb wrote:
Good to see the City and State working together!
on April 30,2013 | 11:59AM
serious wrote:
Well, sort of!! Ever been by there when the landscaping crew is working? They do half of the lawn area since the City has 1/2 and the State 1/2. Only Democrats would come up with a solution like that.
on April 30,2013 | 12:28PM
hikine wrote:
I've been in Hawaii for 22 years and every mayor since promised to renovate the Natatorium but the budget were deflected to fund other projects. Now it'll cost more to fix this problem but hopefully it'll be finally done without delay. Talking and doing it seems to be a problem here in Hawaii. The Natatorium does deserve a place in history.
on April 30,2013 | 12:05PM
Hodad wrote:
Sorry, Harris was the last mayor who said he was for restoring the pool. He wanted to do carnival acts there. Hannemann, Carlisle and Caldwell knew the only solution was tear the pool down since Health department put in rules making restoration cost prohibitive. Who would want to swim in a salt water pool at the beach?
on April 30,2013 | 12:21PM
EricMuraoka wrote:
Sorry, Hodad, to quick to shoots hikine down, but all mayors since have promised to RENOVATE the Natatorium, not resore. RENOVATE can mean both restore or demolish. I agree, to much talk from politicians and not enough doing.
on April 30,2013 | 03:18PM
oneputta wrote:
Are those the same rules the health department enforces on the salt water pools at the hilton and koolina? or are they exempted somehow?
on May 2,2013 | 09:45PM
livinginhawaii wrote:
This is unacceptable and disrespectful to the families of those who served in the Great War from Hawaii. Veterans beware - if the government refuses to fund maintenance of your memorial it will be demolished and only a piece relocated. I guess this is not unexpected from the governor who served against our country in his college days...
on April 30,2013 | 01:21PM
inverse wrote:
Actually just the opposite. It is unacceptable and disrespectful to force to keep alive an elderly person suffering from a terminal illness. When everyone, including the medical professionals, are in agreement that forcing to keep alive that elderly person for the sake of people who don't want to let go is the problem. The Natatorium, when it was first built, was like a young healthy person, vibrant with life, however age and DISEASES that have popped up over the years such as flesh eating bacteria, MRSA; primary only treated sewage released offshore; severe degradation of the pool structure, etc.; and there is NO WAY the Natatorium can realistically be rehabilitated to what it once was; has to be let go and die with dignity. That is the RESPECTFUL thing to do and the Natatorium arch will be PRESERVED which memorializes veterans from World War I.
on April 30,2013 | 01:47PM
Bdpapa wrote:
Agree, this is an embarassment and disgraceful fot hose being remembered.
on April 30,2013 | 02:04PM
Anonymous wrote:
Why not fill in the pool and turn it into a beach volleyball stadium. The bleachers are already there and that whole half was already renovated. Why waste more money by knocking down something we just rebuilt?
on April 30,2013 | 01:53PM
Incadove wrote:
This used to be such a pretty place when I lived in Hawaii many years ago. It's sad to see how it has been allowed to fall into such disrepair - and now will be demolished.
on April 30,2013 | 02:05PM
Publicbraddah wrote:
How's that for progress? Took only 40 years to reach this point.
on April 30,2013 | 02:23PM
Psyche wrote:
The part that saddens me, is thinking about what's to come for one of my favorite south shore beaches....Kaimana. It's a bit of an oasis, that i'm afraid will turn into every other beach on the shore. And next the'll probably prohibit the paddlers from coming in there.
on April 30,2013 | 02:37PM
goodvibrations wrote:
on April 30,2013 | 02:45PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Hey, at least they made a decision.
on April 30,2013 | 03:18PM
CloudForest wrote:
Ugly falling down structure with no acceptable current usage - any modernization would be a vast improvement! Hope it all comes together in a way that is usable and fun for all ages.
on April 30,2013 | 04:48PM
Mythman wrote:
Good plan - have to find another spot to take a girl on a moonlit night....
on April 30,2013 | 04:53PM
pj737 wrote:
$18.4M to tear down the natatorium, build an archway and add sand to the beach... are you kidding me?
on April 30,2013 | 04:59PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Yeah, I know it sounds way too low. But, fear not, by the time you add in the lawsuits, the massive environmental permitting, studies, special permits and design revisions I am sure we can get it up there at $25 million.
on April 30,2013 | 05:06PM
CloudForest wrote:
That is wonderful sarcasm - what isn't wonderful is the fact it is beyond true in this "spoiled fruit cronyism" world we live in.
on April 30,2013 | 05:23PM
iwanaknow wrote:
Come on, it will be a least double by the time they are pau.
on April 30,2013 | 05:33PM
Wiggs wrote:
Maneki_Neko, you da man!
on April 30,2013 | 05:50PM
marine38 wrote:
FINALLY!!! THANK YOU, Governor Abercrombie and Mayor Caldwell for having the cajones to FINALLY drive a stake through the heart of that eyesore. However, knowing what often happens in this state, I'll reserve the fireworks and the horn blowing until the pool actually disappears. I was 100% FOR the Friends of the Natatorium if they wanted to restore and maintain that white elephant in perpetuity USING THEIR OWN MONEY but I was violently opposed to them wanting to use even one cent of my money and any public funds for the same purpose. I'm a 30-year Marine so I can hardly be accused of being anti-veteran or anti-Doughboy. But there are better ways to honor our WWI veterans than to preserve a memorial that was ill-designed from the get-go. It's best day was opening day and it went downhill from there. How much money was squandered on that monument to political cowardice. Good on ya, Governor and Mayor for standing tall!
on April 30,2013 | 07:43PM
kolekole wrote:
Fill up the pool with the homeless....Two birds with one stone........Uh Oh!
on April 30,2013 | 08:03PM
connie wrote:
Hope they engineer it right. All the sand will keep washing out. I remember when you could walk from the Wall to Sans Souci on the beach. Now they got walls and sidewalks eroding all the beaches in Waikiki. John Kelley Jr. (SOS- Save Our Surf) was right nearly 50 years ago-- development was going to roin our beaches. Hope the new beach don't make Sans Souci Beach wash out into the ocean.
on April 30,2013 | 09:22PM
oneputta wrote:
You nailed it sistah, Ask the Army Corps of Engineers, they did the wave study in 2006. Of course everyone ignored it because it said exactly what you just said. That's OK though, Marine38 has plenty of money to replenish the beach.
on May 2,2013 | 09:58PM
Silversword wrote:
What a stupid city! Destroying its uniqueness, one historical place at a time. Erasing its character, one anomaly at a time. So bankrupt, so impoverished, it can't even maintain its monuments! So lacking in vision, it can't see the past in its future.
on May 2,2013 | 07:24AM
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