A senior center in a historic building becomes the target of repeated vandalism

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A senior center in a historic Kakaako building has become the target of vandals who've broken four windowpanes in the structure.

Na Kupuna Makamae Center opened its doors in September 2016 in the building that was originally the Ala Moana pump station. The building is a familiar Kakaako landmark that sat unused and empty for decades.

Because it's an older historic structure, what seems to be minor damage can be a major repair job.

Two glass windowpanes were damaged in December. Two more were broken sometime in the past weekend. Workers discovered the damage when they found broken glass on the floor.

"We also found tiny little stones in the center, amongst all the broken glass, so that's how we figured out what had happened," said Na Kupuna Makamae director Rhonda Burk.

The old pumping station was built in 1900 but had been abandoned for some 40 years. The senior center has been expanding its programs since moving in.

"It's been surprising to walk in there and see the transformation," said Randal Lau, a longtime tai chi instructor who started classes at the center a few weeks ago. He's not happy about the vandalism.

"It's like they think, oh, break a window, laugh it off, go home, and they go down, spend a couple hundred dollars," said Lau. "It's not like that. It's a long process."

"Each pane actually is a different size. There's no exact sizes," said Burk. "And when that building was designed and built back in the early 1900s, it was pane by pane that was designed and built and installed."

The building is also on the National Register of Historic Places, which means that before anything can be replaced, the center must get approval from the State Historic Preservation Division. It also has to get approval from the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which oversees development in Kakaako.

Burk estimates each pane will cost $200 to $300. Then there's the cost of custom installation into the iron window frames. It's not an easy fix for the non-profit.

"It'll probably be a while before we can even fix it and repair it because it's going to cost us a lot of money," said Burk. "So I don't know if we're looking at fund raising or how we're going to do it."

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