Wednesday, October 02, 2019
Did you know you can weigh in on Caldwell’s $772 million splurge on replacing the Blaisdell Arena, a war memorial? Be quick, though
The information below is provided by @BlaisdellMemorl .
The City is planning to replace Blaisdell Arena, a building eligible for the State and National Historic Register of Historic Places, and the public can submit comment now to the State Historic Preservation Department (SHPD), but you wouldn't know that from following the news. These consultation periods are not generally considered newsworthy subjects, but it is an important way for the public to weigh in on proposed changes to any historic site in Hawaii.
The final Environmental Assessment for the $772 million Blaisdell Center redevelopment project plans to retain the arena's exterior while replacing and modernizing the interior, stating no significant impact on this historic site. Now the City plans to demolish and replace the arena's interior AND exterior. If addition of a two-story dressing room in 2013 can be determined as affecting the historic arena, surely gutting it to the rafters does.
Historic Hawaii Foundation's comments on the draft EA disagreed with the proposed finding of "no significant impact". Historic preservation practices state that historic features should be repaired instead of replaced. Destroying the historic character of Blaisdell Arena would certainly affect this historic property, which is inconsistent with the EA's findings of no significant impact. The City isn't even following their own rules.
This is where the SHPD consultation comes in. Anyone can comment on projects involving historic sites for 30 days after the project is published on SHPD's website. They published 2 projects on Blaisdell Center but didn't say what either project is about. It's rather hard to comment on a project when you don't know what it is, and as of this writing the state still has not offered a description. One likely addresses the historic architecture. The comment period for the earliest project ends on Saturday Oct 5, the latter on Oct 19.
Blaisdell Arena is a well known and recognizable building. You see it flying in and out of Honolulu. Post an image on any history of Hawaii Facebook page and you'll get hundreds of comments. Do the same 1 month later and you'll get hundreds more. Historic buildings are architectural kupuna, they have stories to tell, if you treat them right.
To often in Hawaii people don't rally to support an historic site until the demolition crew shows up. See Sherwoods. Of course, it's difficult for people to follow projects threatening their favorite historic site when most in this state are struggling just to keep a roof over their head.
Navigating the City's convoluted logic of "no significant impact" on an historic building that they plan to demolish while dealing with the state's obtuseness on what projects are actually up for consultation can be soul crushing. No wonder so many throw up their hands and walk away. It's almost easier to protest. See Sherwoods again.
But here is a chance to make a difference when it counts.
If you want to preserve Blaisdell Arena, email SHPD at the addresses below and tell them this historic site is too significant to lose. Retaining the historic character of this building's exterior is possible while still updating the interior. Do this by Oct 5. Or by Oct 19. Who knows
State Historic Preservation Division
Alan Downer, Administrator
601 Kamokila Boulevard, Rm 555
Kapolei, Hawaii 96707-2037
Tanya Gumapac-McGuire, Acting Architecture Branch Chief