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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Hokona's Cellar soon to get a facelift

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By William Aranda / New Mexico Daily Lobo

The restrooms behind the locked door, at the bottom of this stairway at Hokona Hall will be renovated this fall. The new restrooms will feature new plumbing fixtures, partitions, hand dryers and trash receptacles.

The Cellar recreation area in Hokona Hall may be getting a makeover for the first time in 40 years.

The proposed budget, at nearly $400,000, will add 10 fixtures to the existing bathrooms, which will be the first improvements since The Cellar was established as a recreation area in the 1970’s, Chris Vallejos, Institutional Support Services’ associate vice president, said.

The renovations would reduce wait times at the bathrooms in The Cellar, where two stalls each in the men’s and women’s restrooms serve about 750 people. But the project needs to be approved by the Higher Education Department, according to a memorandum submitted to the board of regents.

Vallejos, who made a formal request for a renovation on Aug. 8, said if the project is approved, work should begin in early October and finish in January.

“The bathrooms no longer meet our needs since they were designed for a different era,” he said.

Aside from the number of facilities, improvements will be made to the plumbing, partitions, hand dryers, trashcans, lighting, tile and the walls will get a new coat of paint, according to the proposal memo.

Dustin Woods, a freshman living in Hokona, said the proposal is a good idea and will improve student living.

“It could use an update,” he said. “Make it a little bit bigger for everybody, maybe a little bit more modern. Some of the faucet heads in there, you can tell they’re a little bit older and don’t work the way that they should.”

Vallejos said Hokona Hall opened in 1957 as a residence and dining hall and The Cellar has not had any work done to it since the 1970s. However, Hokona’s ballroom, dining room and theater were refurbished late last spring, he said.

The facilities in The Cellar have needed to be addressed since the last renovation, he said.

“The layout, tiling and fixtures are original from the 1950’s and appear very worn and the space in general is poorly designed,” he said, ”It wasn’t a conscious decision to delay as much as finally addressing a growing need to upgrade our facilities to better meet resident and user needs.”

According to the proposal memo, the improvements will bring the building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, along with meeting those other needs.

To complete the project, the current men’s room and adjacent storage room will be demolished and the space will be used to add seven stalls to the women’s restroom, the proposal memo states.

The men’s restroom will be relocated altogether, using the existing storage room, prep room and partial vestibule, all of which will be demolished to provide space for the new facilities, he said.

According to the proposal, the changes will not stop there. The corridor from the renovated Cellar, Ballroom and Theater will be upgraded, the proposal states.

Upgrades will include a new drinking fountain and lighting in addition to superficial improvements to the walls and floor.

Until then, students can take comfort in Vallejo’s optimism on the project, he said.

“We are very confident this renovation will be approved by Higher Education,” he said, Students can expect to see some exciting changes come next year.
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Matt Reisen is a freelance reporter for the Daily News. He can be reached at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @DailyLobo._