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Repairs at Kailua center expected to be done soon


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POSTED: Friday, September 04, 2009

QUESTION: For the past 18 months, I have been trying to find out the status of the Kailua Recreation Center's repairs. Our martial arts dojo trained there for six years and was “;evicted”; when the repairs began. When we call, we're told absolutely nothing. Can you help? It's quite frustrating not having a “;home”; for the past two years.

ANSWER: The end is in sight—the end of October.

The roof damaged by a December 2007 windstorm has been repaired, and “;there are only a few minor punch list items to complete,”; according to Collins Lam, deputy director of the city Department of Design and Construction.

The gymnasium has been reopened in phases, beginning with the meeting rooms in May.

Work on the ceiling insulation and panels has been completed, Lam said, but painting of the interior of the gym is expected to continue until mid-September.

A contractor is expected to begin work soon to repair the gym floor, severely damaged by water after the roof was blown off. Those repairs are expected to be completed at the end of October, Lam said.

He said he could not say how much the total project costs because not all the invoices have come in yet.

QUESTION: After many years, some public housing residents are being notified that they must remove their freezers. We cannot retain them merely by paying for their electric usage. The small refrigerators provided are totally inadequate even for a small family. We can possibly get approval for our freezers only if we provide a doctor's certificate of need that we have “;a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.”; Can you help us?

ANSWER: At this point there's no recourse unless you get that doctor's certificate.

Hawaii Public Housing Authority rules prohibit freezers, unless management has given permission in writing, said Stephanie Fo, state public housing manager. The agency “;is working on enforcing all of its rules.”;

Violation notices were sent out after an inspection was conducted. Those who did not comply were given a verbal notice during a follow-up inspection, Fo said.

Why now?

Fo said enforcement of the no-freezer policy is being made for a number of reasons, including the switch to “;asset management,”; with project-based budgets set for each area; aging buildings, many with electrical systems that cannot handle additional appliances; and the need to reduce energy use and lower costs overall.

On top of that, Fo said, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development cites the state agency if a resident has an appliance that has not been approved.

“;Residents with freezers will have to make lifestyle adjustments that many others have had to make by helping lower water and energy costs,”; she said.

Fo said public housing residents receive “;a substantial subsidy in housing costs”; by paying 30 percent of their income—whatever it is—for rent. Even tenants who pay for their own electricity receive a utility allowance, she said.

In the long term, it is in the interests of residents “;to reduce energy consumption so that the system of subsidized public housing can continue,”; Fo said. She asked residents for “;understanding and cooperation.”;