Feds release report on razing of historic Pearl Harbor home

AP News
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Posted: Aug 02, 2016 8:39 PM
Feds release report on razing of historic Pearl Harbor home

HONOLULU (AP) — The National Park Service blames the improper demolition of a historic building at Pearl Harbor on a lack of understanding and training.

The Park Service launched an investigation after discovering the mistake earlier this year. The federal agency found officials did not consult historic preservation authorities as required in part because they lacked an understanding of cultural-resource laws and responsibilities.

The agency's investigation also concluded a cultural resource compliance coordinator responsible for the project was inadequately trained. A report released last week identified turnover of key park staff as another contributing factor to the problem.

The home was among six bungalows the Navy built in the 1920s and 1930s that the Park Service plans to restore. A building similar in style to the demolished home now stands in its place.

An environmental assessment conducted for the project in 2012 described the homes as unique examples of historic Navy housing in Hawaii. All six were found to be in poor condition, but the assessment called for the restoration work to "retain as much historic fabric through rehabilitation as possible."

The report recommended over a dozen steps for the Park Service to rectify the situation, including consulting Hawaii state preservation authorities regarding the buildings. The future of the reconstructed bungalow and the other five will be addressed in these discussions, spokesman Craig Dalby said Tuesday.

Laura Joss, the Park Service's director of the Pacific West region, said the agency deeply regrets the incident.

"The National Park Service takes its responsibility to protect our nation's heritage very seriously, and moving forward, we will do everything necessary to ensure that we fulfill that duty," she said in a statement.

The Navy built the single-story wooden homes as housing for chief petty officers. They were used as residences until the 1990s.

The homes are close to the shore on Ford Island, where many of the battleships bombed by Japanese planes on Dec. 7, 1941, were moored. Some of the bungalows sustained minor damage from smoke and fire during the attack.

The restored homes are expected to be used by visitors and for office and storage space.