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More Unanswered Questions About Construction at Veterans Memorial Arena

11:51 PM, Feb 21, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Monday night, we showed you the extensive brick work, and the project the city halted at Veterans Memorial Arena.  Tuesday night we sought more info on the possible water and moisture issues there. 

We've been trying to get an interview with the city about possible water and moisture problems at the arena.  So far, they have not given us that interview.  So we walked through the arena and did our own inspection.

We asked Councilman Bill Bishop to help us figure out the extent of construction and water problems, if any, at the $130 million Veterans Memorial Arena, which was built with taxpayer money. 

"That's the weak spot, where moisture's coming through the wall," Bishop noted.

He's an architect and has extensive experience with waterproofing and roofing.  We've been asking the city about this for days, after seeing widespread brickwork that's now on hold. 

We did confirm they have halted a "routine maintenance" construction project, until they work out issues with the original builder, Turner Construction.

We spent 45 minutes Tuesday afternoon touring part of the 15,000 seat arena. 

The marketing department from SMG, the entertainment group that operates out of the arena, escorted us on our tour, but did not have any information about the construction work at the building.

Bishop, however, made several observations. 

"That tells me there's some kind of water problem on that wall right there."  During our brief walk-through, Bishop found numerous issues that may be problems now, or could lead to problems in the future. 

"If enough of that happened, and you get enough water in the building like that, that's when you can potentially start to get mold issues in various different spots.  Over time, that kind of moisture in the wall can tend to rust out any brick ties that are in there that over time would potentially cause problems with the face of the building," he said.

"It tells me that I have a lot of questions about what is being discussed right now.  Based on what I'm looking at right here, I would say you would not expect to have to do this level of work in an 8-year-old building.  Not the kind of work that I'm seeing where they're removing masonry facing and what looks like reworking sub-straight flashing and waterproof membrane.  You wouldn't expect to see that on a building this new, " Bishop observed during our tour. 

Again, it's important to note Bishop is not involved in this project, and is just offering his professional opinion on what possible issues he sees on the surface. 

We've made a total of seven phone calls to the city.  They still have not given us that interview with the project manager, or anyone else.

On the phone today, spokeswoman Ginny Walthour told us that a contractor found problems with metal tie-backs at ten locations so far, and there is no impact on events at the arena.  She added that Turner Construction will pay for repair work and is still working on cost estimates.  But we, and this councilman and architect, are still left with questions.

"These kind of things always become a finger-pointing exercise.  They always do inevitably.  As you can see, it's not cheap to have all this stuff. It's rented scaffolding here.  Somebody's got to pay for it," Bishop said.

We are still pursuing this story because your tax dollars paid for this building and we want to know if the original contractor, Turner Construction made mistakes.  They told us Monday they are investigating the issues.

First Coast News

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