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Surfside rebuts a report about delayed building repairs

Officials from Surfside, Florida, rebutted Sunday's suggestion that the town was responsible in slowing down plans of a condo board to make structural repairs to a structure that ultimately collapsed, resulting in the deaths of many.

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Surfside rebuts a report about delayed building repairs

After a Miami Herald report that the town took over a month to respond to the plans submitted by the building board in May, Andrew Hyatt, the town manager, released a statement stating that the issues being discussed were preliminary plans and not permits to start repairs to the building.

Hyatt stated that "It would seem that the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association attempted to address a number o issues outside of the scope of any proposed forty-year recertifyification work." Hyatt said. "The Town and the association did not communicate by phone or email that this submission required urgent action from the Town of Surfside," Hyatt stated.

The Herald first received emails showing that the condo building manager was growing impatient with the lack of town response to plans for temporary parking. This plan would allow the town to proceed on repairs to the concrete slab below the building's pool, and to the columns in the garage.

Scott Stewart, a building manager, wrote to Scott Stewart on June 21 to a town official. This was more than a month after the initial email request. This is holding us back and the cost (sic), 40 year, is coming up quickly.

He said, "Can we get some feedback please so that we can keep moving forward please."

On June 23, the town issued additional information requests. This was just 14 hours after major sections of the 12-story building collapsed, trapping sleeping residents under twisted concrete and metal. 24 bodies have been identified as dead so far. 121 remain unaccounted for.

A spokesperson for the condo board did not immediately respond to inquiries for comment.

It is unlikely that the delay by the town would have made any difference. It is possible that approval of bids and permits for such work could have taken more than a month. While the structural issues that needed to be fixed have been closely examined, it is not clear if they were the cause of the collapse.

After years of delays over structural repairs, emails were finally exchanged between the condo building owners and the town.

An inspection report s submitted by an engineering company to the condo board in 2018 highlighted the problems with the building. According to the report, it recommended that a slab of concrete be laid improperly, rather than sloped. This would prevent water from draining away and could cause "major structural damage."

Morabito Consultants' report did not indicate that the building was at risk of falling. A town official was also present at the time and assured members that the condo building was in good condition shortly after the report was submitted.

Morabito Consultant's estimate price for the work, which was more than $9million, could also be a factor in the delay.

Owners protested, board members left, new members came in, repairs were delayed, and the cost of repairs ballooned to over $15 million by the time a new Board was ready to begin the work in this year's fiscal year according to an April board letter.

The board had taken out a loan to repair the roof, had received bids for structural repairs, and had paid their special assessment. Instead of being required to make their first payment on July 1, those who chose to pay in monthly installments were given a deadline.

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