Students bear brunt of dorm repair rush
Displacements like forcing residents to move twice in the last week are likely to continue
Long-awaited major repairs to the University of Hawaii at Manoa's deteriorating dorms and apartments began yesterday with the dilapidated walkways of the Hale Noelani apartment complex.
Students displaced because of the construction complained of being shuttled from one dorm to the next, which may become more common as the university shuts down buildings for repair during the four-year project.
Construction crews are racing to finish the walkways of Hale Noelani by the end of the summer, then will move on to the rest of the projects totaling $40 million for the Manoa campus over the next several years.
Construction began yesterday on one of the first of $40 million worth of projects to fix up the University of Hawaii at Manoa's dilapidated dorms and apartments.
Workers from Ralph S. Inouye Co. will fix the walkways and install elevators at the Hale Noelani apartment complex.
"It's a rush job," said Ronnie Yokoyama, project foreman. "We have to do it during the summer, before the students get back."
The walkways are cracked, deteriorating from water and termite damage. Wooden beams have been holding them up since May 2002, even though a consultant recommended the beams as a temporary measure for just a few months.
"It's in bad shape," Yokoyama said. "It's time for us to repair it and to do a good job."
Contractors will likely work six days a week and maybe increase it to every day if progress starts lagging, Yokoyama said. The completion date is set for Aug. 10 for the walkway reconstruction and Dec. 6 for the elevator installation.
But as crews started fixing the deteriorating walkways at Hale Noelani, displaced students had to wait outside with all their belongings to move into summer housing. For some, it was their second move since finals ended.
"It's been such an inconvenience to move twice in one week," said Katie Bishop, a senior from Livermore, Calif. "It's been miserable shuttling our things from one dorm to another."
Bishop used to live at Hale Noelani. Last Tuesday she crammed all her belongings, in boxes and laundry baskets, into a dorm room at Johnson Hall because the apartment she wanted at Hale Wainani wasn't ready.
Yesterday, she and about a handful of other students camped out in the courtyard of Hale Wainani for about three hours, waiting for their apartments to be cleaned. All their belongings in boxes and stuffed suitcases were stacked nearby under trees.
"It seems to me that it was just poor planning and poor organization," said Patricia Casper, a senior and political science major who also moved twice in the last week.
Jim Manke, UH spokesman, said though it is inconvenient, that is how interim housing works for students.
Students may have to get used to moves like this. The work to fix the dorms will continue for four years and could involve shutting down some dorms for the full academic year.
Slated projects include replacing the floors at the Lokelani and Lehua towers, complete renovation of the Hale Aloha towers and installing a sprinkler system at Johnson Hall.
Housing fees will increase as a result -- to $4,774 from $3,742 per person for the most commonly shared dorm room.