Construction at College Hill Mansion puts events on hold

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Sep 28 2012 06:16:36 PM HST
Updated On: Sep 29 2012 08:53:29 AM HST

More taxpayer money is going toward fixing up an unoccupied historic mansion on College Hill.

HONOLULU -

For the second time in as many years, taxpayers money is going to renovate what was designated as the UH President’s residence.

A long list of repairs is underway at College Hill.

It includes a new roof, windows and gutters, along with the installation of solar panel. solar water heaters and siding as well as plumbing and electrical work.

The base contract is $680,000 but the amount could exceed that if there are unforeseen problems.

But it wasn't too long ago that the university had crews working on the porte cochere, the back lanai and the guest cottage.

Two years ago UH spent close to a half a million on repairing termite damage.

The work included repairs on the main house and in an adjacent cottage.

Crews replaced the wood floors in the dining and living rooms, as well as a few doors They also had to shore up the lanai floor.

That was on top of more than a million dollars of construction that was spent under Evan Dobelle, the president at the time when he lived in the home,

UH student Michael Honda thinks the administration's priorities are in the wrong place.

He doesn’t see the money going toward improving student learning conditions.

Honda wishes work could go toward better labs in the arts and sciences and for fixing bathrooms which he sees as basic.

"How about just a little bit money to clean up a bathroom or two? Actually, I've been in bathrooms where there is no soap and toilet paper," said Honda.

Freshman Chelsea Cobb said she was shocked at the conditions in her first class on the first day of school in Miller Hall, where 40 students were crammed into a tiny room with no Internet and a broken air conditioner.

"I am not a princess. I am from Ewa, I can handle a fan. And there was no wiggle room, I am trying to take notes and am bumping the kid next to me, and I am like, 'I am so sorry,'" said Cobb.

Cobb said her instructor actually cancelled class for a week until the university found a new room.

UH President M.R.C. Greenwood broke tradition by opting not to live in at College Hill when she was hired.

She opted to rent a luxury apartment at the Waikiki Watermark with the $60,000 housing allowance that UH regents approved.

For the last two years, the Manoa mansion has been used for meetings and receptions.

Now, those are on hold while the construction work is underway.

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