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Sunday, May 11, 9:39 a.m.
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Several tenants of The Grove housing complex frustrated with quality of apartments

Claim complaints lodged to management have gone unheard

Jesse Scardina | The Maine Campus
From the outside, The Grove, the new housing complex near the University of Maine, looks like a well groomed, gated community for college students. Created with the idea of a dorm-like lifestyle, but with more space and less restrictions, The Grove filled up to near capacity with the school year looming.
After the glitz and glamour of the new pool, personal bathrooms and closets and “Project Grove” wore away, according to some residents, The Grove started to show its shoddy work. Arthur “Dodge” Tucker, a second year finance and accounting student, hasn’t been too pleased with his apartment since he moved in.

“On move-in day there was construction debris everywhere,” Tucker said. “Nails, Sheetrock dust everywhere. My air conditioner still doesn’t work. I told them on the first day. At Orchard Trails, s— gets fixed real quick.”

Tucker was skeptical as to whether The Grove was adequately able to build the townhouses in such a short time span.

“I lived up here all summer and those houses went up real quick,” Tucker said.

According to Orono’s code enforcement website, Campus Crest, the parent company controlling The Grove, acquired two separate building permits in June: one to build two townhouses and the other to build eight townhouses.

Tucker listed a handful of problems and promises that weren’t followed through by The Grove.

“In the model house, when you walked in they said, ‘This would be a coat closet,’” Tucker said, pointing to a locked door near the front of his apartment. “It’s a hot water heater. In the bathroom, they said there would be a medicine cabinet behind the mirror, and there is not. There is wireless [Internet] in the buildings but it’s s—– quality.”

‘I had to take myself to the hospital’

Early in her first month at The Grove, Megan McKenna, a third-year psychology student, noticed a musty smell coming from her closet and bathroom. She found a water stain running along the wall behind the toilet, near the sink, in her closet and behind her television.

“I went and complained, but no one came for a while,” McKenna said. “I’m sensitive to dust and mold and stuff like that, so that’s why I let it go for a little bit; but it’s ridiculous now. I had to bring myself to the hospital. [The hospital] told my roommates and I couldn’t sleep there. So I told [the Grove] that, and they said they were sending someone to clean the carpets and said it should be done by nighttime, so they couldn’t guarantee us somewhere else to sleep.”

McKenna said that each time she went to the main building to complain, she hasn’t heard back from management.

“I’ve literally been in there 25 times and told them, ‘Oh, this is wrong and this is wrong.’ No one’s communicating,” McKenna said. “There’s no communication between the people that work here and the tenants.”

Orono Code Enforcement Officer William Murphy said he went through the complex prior to students moving in and didn’t find anything substantially wrong.

“I found a few of what I deemed non-critical issues, I issued them what’s called a temporary certificate of occupancy,” Murphy said. “Most of that was based on finishing the street lights, the basketball courts, the fencing, sealing up some of the holes and the bricks — things that were not critical to the tenants’ safety. I gave them deadlines for all of them, and about half have been completed. There’s about five or six minor items that still need to be fixed.”

Problems elsewhere

Problems at The Grove housing complex are not unique to UMaine. On Sept. 3 of 2011, three students at the University of North Texas spent at least three days in the hospital after a second-floor balcony collapsed under their weight. Campus Crest’s response was that the balcony was created for decorative purposes and wasn’t meant to bear that weight — they neglected to address the fact that a door provided access to the platform.

In August 2007, The Daily Record of Ellensbug, Wash. reported some of the buildings built by Campus Crest weren’t ready. The renters were displaced and had to live in motel rooms for the beginning of the school year.

Last year, Muncie, Ind.’s The Star Press reported that more than 70 community members attended a commission meeting that opposed Campus Crest’s intentions to build a Grove complex in Muncie.

Calls and emails to Campus Crest’s public relation went unreturned as of the end of business on Friday.

 

Check back to mainecampus.com for updates and photos on The Grove story.