Committee recommends demolition of Waikiki landmark

David Dillener
David Dillener

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Faced with multi-million dollar deterioration problems, a city task force, recommends to demolish the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium.

With a 9- 3 vote and 4 abstentions, the non-binding opinion is now up to Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who has said he supports leveling the landmark.

The Natatorium is named on national and state registers of historical places. While we could ask what the city or a special interest group thinks about the decision, asked people who give the memorial purpose what they thought. Veterans and their families.

Once a week,a bench outside the Natatorium is booked dinner for two. Between David Dillener and his dad.

"It's nice this time of night," said Honolulu resident David Dillener.

It's only a meal for one, because his father, a former Korean War vet dines with him in spirit. There's no conversation just admiration for all Americans formerly in action.

"I think about all the people who went through trials and tribulations," said Dillener.

"The logo I guess is more Hawaiian," said Vietnam veteran Doug Bowen.

"I came here as a kid my father brought me here," said Honolulu resident Jack Ofoia.

Jack Ofoia goes to the memorial with his daughter. His father was a Navy vet and brought him there growing up.

"This means a lot to the local people especially like me growing up here in the islands," said Ofoia.

The structure shutdown because of safety concerns in 1979, but for some there's still significance.

"They put the money and effort into this to show their respect and to take it away would be like ok we're done. Come on it's not right," said Dillener.

Others understand its importance but know the Natatorium's deck has corroded concrete and perimeter walls in danger of collapsing.

"It's a war memorial and a lot of people have attachments to that. For me its neutral, it's not that way," said Bowen.

From his spot on the green bench with dad, Dillener is hopeful that this isn't the final white flag for the war memorial.

"History needs to be kept and honored," said Dillener.

While the mayor will make a final decision, the road to the Natatorium's demolition is a legally long and treacherous one. The memorial is on state-owned land, which means the city may not have authority to tear it down. The move will also require an environmental impact statement before any action is taken.