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Caldwell: Waikiki Natatorium EIS to resume

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Jan 21 2013 05:29:00 PM HST

The on-again, off-again plans to do something with the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium seem to be back on again. And the end result could mean the end of the eyesore.

HONOLULU -

Mayor Kirk Caldwell has been in office for less than a month.

But he's already diving into an issue that dogged the previous mayor.

Caldwell says after meeting with the governor twice, he intends to resume work on the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial's environmental impact statement.

The EIS had been quietly suspended by Mayor Peter Carlisle last year while the governor explored taking back the structure, which is state-owned.

"The pool is not usable. For a while, the governor talked about a beach volleyball facility, but after discovering that you would have to rebuild the entire platform -- it's very expensive.  We remove the pool, put in groins, and build a beach," said Mayor Caldwell.

The EIS was to study the option of demolishing the memorial.  It was close to completion when Carlisle put the brakes on it, and critics say internal emails show the city tried to deceive the public about what was happening.

The watchdog group that uncovered attempts to keep the development under wraps likes the way things are headed.

"It's good news when people get around to studying the issue, and the city did before and now the state has, and they come to the same conclusion," said Jim Bickerton of the Kaimana Beach Coalition.

The coaltion's goal is to keep this last area of the Waikiki shoreline free, open and public,

"The governor is concerned about the parking lot. He would like to restore it to a lawn and would I," said Caldwell.

The demolition plan calls for rebuilding a new arch farther inland.

"The beach solution with the preservation of the arches has been found by the 2009 commission to be the low-cost solution. Yes, it costs money but less than all the other options," said Bickerton.

The governor has proposed $2 million in the state budget to go toward the Natatorium project although it may take much, much more than that.

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