By Dominic Girard
O’Keefe House’s 2-inch-wide structural cracks and aging infrastructure have been fixed. “We’re all really grateful for them for fixing it,” saysMatt Flemming, a third-year Journalism student who spent the last two years living in O’Keefe.
Last year, Flemming had to contend with floods from burst pipes, cracks that stretched across the walls and ceilings, and a rodent problem.
Standing next to the construction site of the Student Campus Centre, the combination of old age, jack-hammers and large trucks had taken their toll on the home, until Campus Planning and Facilities repaired O’Keefe over the summer.
The school spent $677, 000 to restore the house that has more than 30 students.About $175, 000 went into repairing the outside of the building. Flemming said the residence looks great. Equally pleased with the condition of the building is fourth-year Technical Theatre student Kevin Turcott, who’s lived at O’Keefe his entire university career.
“I didn’t have problems with the cracks,” he said, “I had problems with the adminstration.”
As last year’s academic peer advisor for O’Keefe, he often had to deal with what he describes as an inattentive Housing office that made decisions for the residence without understanding its peculiarities.
“We are very different here; we do things differently,” he said. “The administration pushed to make it run like everywhere else.” The uniqueness of the building is something that Housing manager Philip Lim tried to keep in mind while assisting Campus Planning with the repairs.
Renovations finally went ahead in June once the foundation work for the new student services building was completed.Work continued until August.
Because O’Keefe House is considered a heritage building, contractors had to follow different regulations during the repair work. For instance, the new paint in the hallways and on the doors reflects the paint of the home in its original state.
Two murals in the basement lounge had to be painted over, but not before being photographed, blown-up and mounted back on the wall. Details like these pleased the senior residents, and for first-year New Media student Ella Collier the house is in great shape.
The cracks have been repaired, new drywall installed and fresh carpets tacked in the common areas. New doors and sprinkler systems brought the building up to fire code. As for the administration, Turcott is impressed.
He considers Lim a saviour and Flemming said that Housing now lends an ear to their concerns. “I don’t think I’m a saviour,” said Lim, “I’m just doing my job.” But Turcott also said that some of the senior residents fear the university will continue to neglect the house, citing maintenance issues like delays in getting garbage bins, no soap or paper towels in the washrooms, and insufficient custodial services.
Lim said that due to the lengthy repairs, O’Keefe House did not have the usual week to prepare the residences for the upcoming session, but that everything should fall into place in the weeks to come.