Stadium's Renovation Concerns Neighbors

Photo: Stadium construction has negatively affected students residing in nearby co-ops. The ASUC passed a bill calling for official dialogue with campus administrators about the issue.
Shannon Hamilton/Staff
Stadium construction has negatively affected students residing in nearby co-ops. The ASUC passed a bill calling for official dialogue with campus administrators about the issue.

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Noise Complaints

Allie Bidwell talks with reporter Madeleine Key about a bill passed by the ASUC urging to lessen the negative effects of construction.

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The ASUC Senate passed a significantly amended bill at its March 9 meeting, calling for an official dialogue to take place between campus administrators and students who have been negatively affected by the ongoing construction at Memorial Stadium.

After a lengthy and emotional presentation was made by residents of nearby cooperatives Sherman Hall and Davis House, senators approved a bill requesting a meeting with Vice Chancellor for Capital Projects Edward Denton, Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard, Athletic Director Sandy Barbour and the affected students before next Friday.

However, according to Cooperative Movement Senator Elliot Goldstein - a co-author of the bill - the meeting will not be scheduled until the senate hears a presentation from Christine Shaff, communications director for facilities services, at its meeting Wednesday.

"We want to see what she brings forth to the table first, and then we'll act accordingly," Goldstein said. He added that ASUC President Noah Stern said Chancellor Robert Birgeneau had been receptive to student concerns after Stern informed him of this issue.

Shaff said she was not yet certain what her presentation is going to be.

"I'm looking forward to talking more with the sponsoring Senator (Goldstein) about what type of information they want to hear," Shaff said.

At the March 9 senate meeting, students described the respiratory problems that numerous members of their houses have developed in the past two months and talked about how extended construction hours have disrupted their daily sleep and study habits.

Since students returned from winter break, construction hours now last 12 hours each day during the week and 11 hours each day of the weekend.

According to Sherman Hall House Manager Frances Lu, she and other residents of the co-op have contacted Shaff and Bob Milano, assistant athletic director for capital planning and management, to express their concerns about excessive dust and noise at least once a week since construction hours increased at the beginning of January.

"We just want to have a dialogue with the people that can act quickly," Lu said. "It's been a slow process up until this point, and that's what was crucial about the bill - it's pushed the university to consider what we have to say."

Goldstein said it was important that the bill passed at the meeting - rather than being tabled for further discussion as some senators recommended - because campus officials who he said can bring about tangible change need to hear from affected students as soon as possible to produce timely improvements.

The original senate bill submitted by Goldstein and co-author Samantha Strimling - an ASUC intern and former employee of The Daily Californian - included a list of specific mitigation requests for Sherman Hall that Lu helped draft.

But these requests - which included asking the campus to fund compensation measures like double-paned windows and air purifiers and contract a third party to conduct air quality and noise monitoring - were removed after contention was raised by several senators.

"We want to find an amicable solution," said Alex Ghenis, the vice president of external affairs for the Berkeley Student Cooperative. "The senate bill that passed is a less combative solution. We're hoping things will move more quickly now."

Although several meetings have taken place between residents of Sherman Hall, representatives of the BSC, Milano and Shaff in the past two months - including a public forum held on Feb. 24 also attended by residents of the area - none of the official requests submitted by the co-op have been met.

"This is a health and well-being issue," Lu said. "It was really alarming when at least 10 girls within a month talked to me about having new respiratory symptoms."

Lu said five Sherman residents have expressed their intention to move out as a result of the construction.

Shaff said the campus is "working directly with the residents of Sherman and will continue to do that."


Madeleine Key covers student government. Contact her at [email protected]

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