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Vandals make mark on Wailupe's walls


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POSTED: Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The small, once-pristine Wailupe Valley School, recently shut down after almost 51 years, now sits defaced with graffiti as its future is being planned.

Some fear illegal activity at the site will continue while it remains vacant. Graffiti covers walls, doors and windows of the school's three buildings as well as two playgrounds. A couple of window frames were torn off and strewn on the ground. Louvers from classroom jalousies were also removed.

A small, makeshift skateboard ramp was created in front of building B with three steel panels and pieces of wood.

“;We're trying to determine the best use for the facility,”; said Sharon Ann Thom, deputy director of the Department of Transportation Services, who is evaluating options for the property, owned by the city.

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City officials were unaware of the graffiti problem. Thom said she was at the site two weeks ago and saw no graffiti. It is believed the vandals may have struck over the Thanksgiving weekend.

“;The graffiti is an unfortunate incident that has occurred that we will address as quickly as possible,”; said Thom, adding that police will be called.

Wailupe Valley School was shut down last school year and merged with Aina Haina Elementary School on July 1 in order to save the Department of Education $750,000 in annual costs plus $600,000 in classroom renovations at Wailupe.

A charter school, private school or office space were some suggestions offered by the state on future use of the property.

City Councilman Charles Djou, who represents the area, said his office did not receive complaints about graffiti, but did receive complaints about the school sitting vacant, making it a magnet for crime.

“;A lot of my constituents' frustrations is there's no movement,”; said Djou. “;There (aren't) any steps to making a decision on this. Just leaving it there is an open invitation to the criminal element.”;

Bob Chuck, chairman of the Kuliouou-Kalani Iki Neighborhood Board, said members have made constant inquiries of the city. “;We are all very curious to find out what's going on.”;

Chuck also said he was unaware of the graffiti problem, and plans to raise the issue at the board's scheduled monthly meeting tomorrow. “;We're disturbed that there's graffiti at the school.”;