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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                  January 26, 2007

 

 

VANDALS AND THIEVES HAMPER EWA RENOVATION

  

EWA – Repeated burglaries and vandalism are causing delays, five-figure dollar losses and headaches for City officials and contractors working on part of the old Ewa Sugar Mill complex.

The work involves the $2.2 million renovation of Building 22, the former plantation tractor shop and machine shop, and Building 25, which used to be the plantation’s central supply warehouse. The City acquired the land as part of its 1993 purchase of almost 600 acres in the Ewa Villages project. The two buildings are expected to be used for storage after the renovation’s completion, which has already been pushed back from October to beyond March. 

“Since last June, there have been at least eight cases of break-ins, property damage or attempted thefts on this jobsite,” said Eugene Lee, director of the City Department of Design and Construction. “Graffiti and vandalism have been a continuing problem here. In addition, thieves have repeatedly broken into the locked building and attempted to take tools and equipment stored inside, in locked toolboxes.”

Thieves have removed and stolen copper water lines, some that were underground, that serve the buildings. Someone also removed several hundred yards of electrical lines atop utility poles that would bring power to the buildings. Thieves have repeatedly broken into the former warehouse, through windows that are now boarded up and by prying the building’s corrugated metal walls open. The warehouse, which has already been repainted three times, is marred by graffiti.

 “The contractors estimate damage at $19,500 so far,” Lee said, “and that doesn’t include costs of delays, damage to City property and the recent theft of overhead utility lines, apparently by thieves who wanted the copper wire.”

Lee added, “It’s a sad fate for these historic plantation facilities. But more than that, the people who are doing this are costing the contractors and all of us taxpayers time and money.”

The contractors agreed. John Cheung, president of CC Engineering and Construction, Inc., and the firm’s project superintendent, Jeffrey Durham, said the damage and theft cost thousands of dollars in unanticipated expenses and months of delays to replace stolen equipment and supplies.

Those costs to contractors drive up the price of doing business in Hawaii and of construction projects that the City puts out for bid.

 “Ultimately, the taxpayers end up paying more,” said Cheung.

Lee said this is not the only City project that is plagued by thieves and vandals. It’s a problem affecting City construction projects islandwide.

 The Makiki Library project, for example, was trashed by vandals several weeks ago just as a renovation of that historic building was nearing completion. Now it will be months before the building can be reopened to the public.

He appealed for neighbors of the mill to look out for suspicious behavior in the area and report it to the Honolulu Police Department at 911.

 

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Contact:

            Eugene Lee, Director of Design and Construction, 523-4564

Friday, January 26, 2007

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