Balconies to be reconstructed at UMW Apartments, cause issues for students
By ESTER SALGUERO & IZZY BRIONES
Recently, Residence Life sent out notifications to students living in the UMW Apartments pertaining to balcony replacement projects scheduled to begin on Sept. 21. Every building had its balcony reconstructed before the middle of August, except for buildings three, four and five.
According to Cassi Tomiko, the Residence Assistant for building five at the UMW apartments, reconstruction was not completed over the summer because buildings three, four and five were used for housing students in leadership programs. However, the number of students inconvenienced this semester is much larger than the number of students who would have been while living in the apartments over the summer.
Miguel Marx, a biology major who lives in building five, has his own opinions about the process of the balcony replacement project.
“I was a little surprised that that was actually a project that would be considered during the semester; the early part of the semester,” Miguel said. “How many people are you upsetting over the summer versus the semester, right, so there’s a big difference there.”
Residence Assistants were notified about the balcony replacement that was to begin this semester during the second week of classes. According to an e-mail sent out by UMW Residence Life and Faculty Staff, the construction process will begin with jackhammering the concrete balconies at 8 a.m. during the weekdays.
Miguel talked about how he does not get enough sleep this semester because of his course load and how the construction will only disrupt his sleeping schedule more by starting at 8 a.m.
“I’m just a little disappointed that this wasn’t taken care of earlier,” Marx said. In addition to this inconvenience, parking will be restricted to students living around buildings three, four and five as well.
“It is obviously going to be a huge inconvenience for everyone living in that area,” Marx said. Tomiko spoke about how Chris Porter, the director of Residence Life & Commuter Student Services, sent out an e-mail to all the RAs explaining that the balcony replacement project would be completed after finishing buildings three, four and five.
“At first I was kind of [surprised]. I didn’t know that they had actually worked on all the other balconies during the summer,” Tomiko said.
Residents have been asking for specifics regarding to when their buildings will be affected by the construction. Tomiko assures her residents that Res Life will give out more information pertaining to the exact time and date that construction will begin for each building.
Areas such as the first floor balcony entrances will be blocked off, but, there are multiple ways to exit each building and only the areas deemed as unsafe for students to walk through will be blocked.
A resident in Tomiko’s building spoke to her about her experience last year when the balconies were being reconstructed.
“It is going to be pretty loud for the first couple of weeks, but then it is just something you get used to,” Tomiko said, as she recounted the details that her resident told her about.
“I think that the noise will be extremely bothersome,” Marx said. “I get easily distracted and I don’t know anyone who could work in that sort of environment, so [I’m] not looking forward to that.”
According to Tomiko, the construction workers board up the entire balcony, causing the entire living room to remain pitch black throughout the day so that lights must be turned on all day. The panels will be boarded to protect students from glass or any debris during the removal process, the e-mail states.
Completion of the replacement process takes less than a month, according to Tomiko. The construction workers prepare each level of the building at the same time but they begin on one side and then move to the back of the building, so that all entrances are not blocked.
“They build up from the ground, all sides, all at the same time, just so that they can get it done,” Tomiko said.
Students have to remove all of their belongings from the balcony to their living rooms, which will be an inconvenience for those with a lot of stuff.
“I’m sure other people would not appreciate [moving everything], especially people that have a lot of stuff in their living room and they have decorated it,” Marx said. “They are going to have to take that down, put it back up and you know, moving concrete isn’t a very clean job.”
Tomiko has a good idea about what will be going on during the construction process, including when the construction workers will be expected to occupy part of resident’s living spaces.
“The only time that they come in is when they are pouring the concrete and when they are boarding up the windows,” Tomiko said. She also stated that students should not be alarmed by their company because they try not to interact with students as they do not want to distract them from their studies.
“Yes, there are points when they are going to have to be in the apartment for safety reasons, for me and for you,” Tomiko said.