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Report Criticizes Original Arena Construction, Contractors and City

11:48 AM, Mar 6, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- We found a report warning about serious safety issues, and danger at the Veterans Memorial Arena.  This report strongly warns objects could fall from this city owned arena.  Problems that could potentially cost more than 2 million dollars to fix.

For weeks, we've been showing you major construction problems at the city's arena.  Now, an engineering report, the building's tenant SMG ordered, gives more insight into the possible extent of the problems.  These are some of the warnings in the report:

"The owner of the facility should take immediate measures to protect the public ..."
 "... a complete disregard for long standing industry accepted details and workmanship ..."
"... loose stone accents pose a potential hazard ..."
"... perimeter of the building should be cordoned off to prevent public access ..."

These explicit warnings are all about our $130 million dollar arena the city built with your taxpayer money in 2003.  Structural and architectural engineering firm THP out of Cincinnati, Ohio inspected the arena on in July 2010 and November 15th and 16th of 2011.  They city paid nearly 10-thousand dollars for these inspections.

These nearly 70 page reports blast the construction of the arena, the contractors and the city.  It gives immediate recommendations the owner, the City of Jacksonville, must take for your safety. 

The reported stated, "In THP's opinion, a majority of the noted building envelop problems are the result of deficient construction, and a likely lack of experienced workers and oversight.  Many of the noted problems reflect a complete disregard for long standing industry accepted details and workmanship, and certainly not consistent with the intent of the original design drawing details.  Similarly it seems apparent that little-to-no quality control from the general contractor was exercised, as well as little-to-no supplemental Owner supplied quality assurance."

David Schneider, the senior project manager for The City of Jacksonville referenced this THP report and some of its findings in this letter dated January 31, 2012.  He wrote, quote, "As you know, these alleged defects were brought to the City's attention in late November 2011 in an envelope assessment study and field reports prepared by THP Limited, Inc."

Even though he acknowledges this explicit THP report, warning of possible and serious dangers, he told us this, just a few weeks later on February 22nd.  "We don't believe the building's unsafe, we believe the bricks are all connected together, that none have fallen in nine years, and none are going to fall anytime soon." 

Now that we've analyzed this report, we interviewed city engineer Schneider again about this report and the arena.  He said, "It's a credible report."
We spent more than an hour going through the dangers this report highlighted.  Schneider said, "We need to keep people away from the building."  "It's safe to be around the building."  It was answers like that, that led to more questions.

We asked about the part of this report that warns the masonry, which is the brick and stone, is filled with sealant to give the appearance of a masonry control joint.  We also asked about the numerous warnings in this report of possible falling brick and stone in multiple sections of this report.

Schneider replied, "In response to this Jeff, we put the barricades up to keep people away from the immediate exterior of the arena.  By doing so, we keep the environment safe here."

Keep in mind, we are talking about large stones that weigh 30 to 100 pounds that THP warns could fall.  Jacksonville is a city that has been hit by a hurricane, and we could, at some point, get hit again.  Schneider said this building could be less safe than others.  "Because of the problems noted in the report that you've gone through.  That there's ties missing, not anchored, angle is not anchored that might make the facade more susceptible to damage from high wind."

First Coast News

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