By Michael Keany, Courtesy of Honolulu Magazine
What is it?
Built in 1916, Fort Kamehameha was originally an Army Coastal Artillery Post. After World War II, however, coastal artillery became obsolete, and most of the non-residential buildings were demolished. The remaining 33 homes stand as great examples of the Bungalow/Arts and Crafts style of the era, earning it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
What threatens it?
The Air Force has announced that it intends to dispose of the historic district by the end of 2009. The reason given: Apparently Fort Kamehameha’s location underneath the flight path of runways at Honolulu International Airport puts it in an “accident potential zone.” In a letter to the state Historic Preservation Division explaining the regulation, Air Force environmental flight chief Richard Parkinson wrote, “The risks of aircraft accidents, as well as noise levels, are at an unacceptable level for family housing.”
What can be done?
“We’re doing an environmental impact statement right now,” says Air Force public information officer Master Sgt. Robert Burgess. “There are five or six [disposal] options on the table, and the decision will be made once we have all the information in.” Those options include demolishing some or all of the homes.
Astrid Liverman, architectural branch chief of the state Historic Preservation Division, says her department has offered to lease Fort Kamehameha from the Air Force for 10 years, which would preserve the historic district without requiring an EIS, but the Air Force has elected to continue with the study. “If the determination of the EIS is that demolition is an acceptable solution, we won’t be able to do anything about it,” she says.