J.Kalani English

Lawmakers Ponder Glass Door Mystery At State Capitol

Senators Questioning Installation Of New Enclosure On Second Floor

KITV News 4
January 19, 2012

Catherine Cruz KITV4 News Reporter

HONOLULU -- New glass doors installed at the state capitol over the holidays have lawmakers and capitol visitors wondering why.

The hallways were busy at Wednesday's opening of the legislative session, but on one end of the second floor, people were met with a new enclosure. Many were asking the same question: What's up with the doors?

Sen. Kalani English has his office on one end of the hallway. He prefers to leave his doors open to make visitors feel welcomed, as well as because of the uneven air-conditioning system.

"This is a very old building. It's an energy dinosaur and our air-conditioning is central, so my inner office is literally freezing cold. The outer office is very hot," said English.

On the other end of the hallway is Sen. Sam Slom's office.

"I suspect some contractor is doing pretty well," said Slom.

Like English, Slom prefers to keep his door open.

He was told the new doors were part of an experiment to cut energy costs and to protect documents in the Ways and Means offices, but Slom points out the doors don't lock.

"We should encourage more people to come down to the capitol to get involved. Anytime you put any kind of obstacle in their way time it limits the number of people," Slom said. Slom has questions about accessibility for the disabled.

Sen. Ron Kouchi questioned if the state obtained special permits to do the job. The capitol is on both the state and federal register of historic properties. Others wondered since there are lots of open doors at the capitol, could there be more glass doors coming?

"I came in one day and there was a door. I was surprised," said Sen. Clarence Nishihara.

Nishihara believes the doors were to help with a problem with mold and mildew that was particularly bad several years ago.

"It was a constant problem, so it was recommended to us by the Department of Accounting and General Services that we should keep our doors closed so that would lower that growth of the mold and all of that," said Nishihara.

Ernest Lau of the Department of Accounting and General Services said the doors are part of a pilot project. The original plan called for doors to help enclose the house, senate and department offices in the capitol building. Lau said the enclosure has drawn lots of negative comments.

"We will survey lawmakers in the next two weeks to decide if we will modify the doorway to make it more accessible by adding an automatic button, or if we should scrap the project entirely," said Lau. The two doors cost $27,000 to install.

Original article URL: http://www.kitv.com/news/30256510/detail.html

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