WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - There's a new proposal to save the aging Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation unveiled a design to rehabilitate the salt water swimming pool at the war memorial, which closed more than 35 years ago.
"The water quality was bad, so to provide a design that allows it to be clean and safe and open to the public is exactly what we're looking for, and this is it," said Mo Radke, president of Friends of the Natatorium.
Engineer Hans Krock and his business partner, Alfred Yee, developed the concept to preserve the historic structure for future generations.
The swim basin's makai seawall would be replaced with rows of concrete chevrons and walls. Openings at the Diamond Head and Ewa corners would also be added.
"It's the perfect way to allow wave energy to get into the basin and basically drive an exchange of water in there which then would clear up the difficulties they have right now," said Krock, emeritus professor of Ocean and Resources Engineering at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
The bottom would be replaced with a layer of gravel covered with concrete panels to prevent murkiness. There is no estimated price tag, but officials with the National Trust are urging the city to look into the proposal's low-cost potential.
"Our groups have been talking to the city about the opportunity for a public-private engagement on fundraising and sharing the cost burden for this facility," said Brian Turner, senior field officer and attorney for the National Trust.
Robert Kroning, director of the city's Department of Design and Construction, said the city appreciates the input from the organization.
"There isn't much detail as to how it's going to work and meet the pool rules or somehow not qualify as a pool, so we still have to go over those details, but from our initial look at it, it looks very similar to the project that we were going to construct back in the 90's. I believe that ended up having to be canceled due to it not meeting the pool rules that DOH (Department of Health) had established," he said.
A consultant hired by the city is currently working on a draft environmental impact statement with four options.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell supports the preferred alternative, which is to demolish the pool, move the historic arches and build a public beach. During a press conference in 2013, Caldwell and then-Governor Neil Abercrombie said the plan would cost $18.4 million compared to $69.4 million to keep the pool and rebuild the facility.
"He (Caldwell) wants something done because it's sad that it has just been sitting there for so long. We fully understand the importance of the memorial and we want to respect the people who fought and died in World War I," Kroning said.
An annual Veterans Day tribute will be held at the natatorium at 11 a.m. on Friday.
See renderings of the proposed design and leave your comments by clicking here.