TREASURE ISLAND – City officials were told Aug. 6 it could be another six to eight weeks before any conclusions can be drawn regarding the cause of cracks in the Central Beach Trail.
Phil Graham, the managing partner and owner of Phil Graham Landscape Architecture, the city’s consultant and project manager for the $1.3 million Beach Trail project, told Treasure Island Commissioners he has hired a pair of consultants to complete testing of the concrete but his final report might take “three to four weeks or six to eight weeks,” depending on weather conditions and other variables.
“We are looking at all of the testing that was done throughout construction where concrete was tested in each batch to ensure it met the standards that were part of the specifications of the project,” Graham said. “We’re looking at doing what we call a petrographic study where we take core samples of the trail, slice it thinly and look at it in a lab for molecular structure, so we can understand the compression and strength of the concrete.”
Graham said recent vandalism to testing equipment has set back the timetable. Graham also told commissioners June 18 that testing was underway and a report would be forthcoming.
Meanwhile, the city is looking into the possibility of its own independent study on the issue and instructed City Attorney Maura Kiefer to look into any time limitations on the city’s one-year warranty on the trail construction.
The latter moves were triggered when Graham said it’s likely the cracks are the result of a cosmetic issue.
“I will say it’s the opinion of several professionals we’ve been dealing with that you are dealing with a cosmetic issue and not a structural issue,” Graham said.
“Therefore, it puts us in a different category on how this can be dealt with financially. We want to make sure of that and find solutions.”
Graham earlier said it is not a geo-technical issue, or an issue of settling.
“I disagree with you when you say it’s not a geo-technical issue,” said Commissioner Alan Bildz. “I just walked the trail and the cracks jumped the expansion joints, which makes me think this is a base problem. My fear is, like a football game, you’re running out the clock. And when you finally do come up with a conclusion it will be (past warranty). I don’t see any other way of fixing this besides ripping this out and starting over. I don’t want to hear ‘too late guys, sorry.’”
Graham promised scientific evidence to prove it is a cosmetic issue.
“We’re very confident it’s not a geo-technical issue,” he said. “Our consultants will help us explain that with scientific detail as we move forward. I do understand the whole issue with the warranty and winding down the clock. It’s not a strategy. We do want to work as quickly as possible.”
Dennis Velasco, chairman of Treasure Island’s Beach Stewardship Committee, walked the trail recently with Bildz and said the cracks appear to be the result of settling.
“There are places where there are cracks that look like a slab, if you can imagine cracking on a corner and sort of dropping off,” said Velasco, who has a construction background. “And it happens right after an expansion joint. It’s very apparent there’s a settling of the foundation, in this case sand. You can almost always count on a structure settling in this environment.”
Mayor Bob Minning said he was concerned that Graham considered the problem to be cosmetic.
“I would suggest the commission consider, depending upon what the report says, getting our own expert,” said Minning. “I heard the words there and I’ll just say if this is a cosmetic problem and it takes a cosmetic solution just think what it might entail. I’m not going to read between the lines. We’ll wait to see what the results are. But it may be that we want to have our own third-party review of this. It might be a good idea to talk with (Public Works Director) Jim (Murphy) to see if he has some idea of people that have expertise.
“As we said before,” Minning said, “we paid $1.3 million for a project and at the end of the day that’s what we expect. Nothing more, nothing less.”
The trail was designed by Coastal Technology Corp. of Vero Beach and built by Biltmore Construction of Clearwater.
In other action, commissioners:
• Passed an ordinance on second reading that makes minor updates to the city’s noise regulations.
• Passed a resolution that updates the city’s fee schedule. Among the changes, the minimum permit cost will increase from $64 to $69. The city’s variance fee remains $350 and additional variances will cost $100.
• Extended the city’s contact for two years with Consolidated Resource Recovery, which provides yard waste disposal.
• Made 15 board and committee appointments. They include: Richard Harris, James Buchyn and Fred Kelsey, Code Enforcement Board; Susan Reiter, Dennis Fagan, Joyce Weinreich, Frank McConnell and Darrell Meacham, Planning and Zoning Board; Don Nolan, George Greenfield and Dennis Velasco, Beach Stewardship Committee; C. Susan Keller, Gulf Beaches Public Library board; Kevin McNally, John Shipman and Doug Brown, Marina Committee.