Unsung Heroes #198

The recent horrifying collapse of a condo tower in Florida has people across the country wondering: “Could it happen here?”

In Westport, the answer is a pretty definitive “no.”

Steve Halstead has decades of experience with major Westport building projects — including the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s Phase 1 and 2 at Mahackeno, and the Staples High School modernization. He writes:

Westport is a better and safer place because the town has a well-defined “building process” staffed by building inspectors and fire marshals who are professional, tough, thorough and fair.

They care about what is best for Westport and its citizens, and insure compliance with state regulations.

Above all, they are value-added team members with the “OAG” teams — owner, architect and general contractor — used for large project management.

Massive buildings like Staples High School are safe in large part because of the diligence of Westport’s building inspectors and fire marshals.

These building officials work with “OAG” teams at all important steps throughout these large projects. Examples:

  • Detailed review of construction documents prior to building permit approval. Much of what happens in these reviews improves the project, and protects everyone.
  • Detailed on-site inspections of all aspects of the project during construction.
  • Final on-site “as built” inspections before issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy by the town.

All of this ensures that “as built” matches the approved and permitted construction documents.

“As built” documents can be complex. For the Y pool, that included excavation, installation of rebar, construction of the tank, concrete pour and testing, installation of proper electrical grounding of the pool and surrounds, installation of all electrical and mechanical work to support the pool and the locker rooms, and much more.

The Westport Weston Family YMCA pool, during construction.

Town building and fire departments were intimately involved in that, and many other projects. Their diligent, conscientious, ongoing work — with their attention to detail, and to everyone involved on all sides of those projects — make them this week’s Unsung Heroes.

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

2 responses to “Unsung Heroes #198

  1. Our condo on Palm Beach island was 16 feet from the beach and about 140 feet from the ocean. The pipes were cast iron and the rebar was metal that rusted. Metal and salt water don’t mix. Around 2005, every owner had to pay a $42,000 dollar or $36,000 dollar Special Assessment to remove rusted cast iron and rebar. The total was 4.2 million! The money had to be paid in full in 18 months. We had many of the same problems that the condo in Surfside had, so had to spend millions keeping the building safe!

  2. E. van Dorsten

    Underground parking garages in Miami need to pump out the invasive sea water occasionally, especially with storms and high tides; a little known fact that does not get much press unfortunately. The sea water can, of course , contribute to deterioration if not exacerbate it. And all high rise properties in SE Florida must undergo engineering review at the forty year mark to check for structural integrity. Any structural deficits must be addressed and corrected. This is usually completed in a timely fashion. These assessments can sometimes be costly and are assessed to the Home Owners Association (HOA) which in turn passes the cost on to each property owner in the building. Westport really does not suffer from these same problems. Nor is Westport built upon a limestone base of ancient coral reef as is South Florida . Nor are we likely to have sink holes. An occasional 100 year hurricane (Sandy) ? Yes, that can happen.

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