Treasure Island’s new Central Beach Trail opened last spring at a cost of $1.2 million to taxpayers. City commissioners are considering litigation due to a reported 265 cracks in the concrete.
TREASURE ISLAND – It will be another eight weeks before city leaders get the results of a study on the cause of cracks in the Central Beach Trail in Treasure Island.
Phil Graham, president of Phil Graham Landscape Architecture, whose company provided design services for the $1.2 million Beach Trail, told city commissioners Oct. 15 that he wants to complete a petrographic study of the trail before he submits an analysis on the possible cause of the cracks. Graham contends the cause of the cracks is cosmetic and not structural. City leaders believe otherwise.
“We need one final test and I must insist that we get that test completed before we submit our analysis,” said Graham. “It’s going to take eight weeks to get those results. Once we get the final test results, we’ll know the best information to put in your hands to determine a direction to go.”
The trail, which extends from the Bilmar Beach Resort north to the Residence Inn by Marriott, opened in March and within three weeks cracks appeared in the walkway and walls.
Slowly, the number began to increase. Graham said his team’s most recent count had the number at 265.
Working with Graham on the issue are Cliff Truett of Coastal Technology Corp., which provided structural engineering services for the trail; and Biltmore Construction Co. of Clearwater, which constructed the trail.
The city, meantime, has hired Ken Roush of Yulee, Fla., to provide an independent assessment of the cracks. Roush, who is an expert in concrete failure and concrete repair, will analyze results of the Graham team’s report and his findings will dictate the direction the city will go as far as possible litigation.
Graham denied reports that his team is dragging its feet on producing a report to the city, noting, “I want to relieve those concerns because that is not the case in our minds.”
Graham said his group has been working with limited financial and human resources and has been paying for tests out of pocket.
“It’s cost tens of thousands of dollars to this point,” Graham said. “We’re definitely coming to the table putting our money where our mouth is.”
Graham said he didn’t receive the preliminary results of the initial concrete testing until Sept. 13 and within a few days received notice that the city may consider litigation. Graham hired St. Petersburg attorney Kent Whittemore to represent him on Sept. 30.
“Our goal is to solve this problem,” Whittemore told city commissioners. “We want to work with you and avoid litigation.”
Commissioner Tim Ramsberger asked if there was a public safety concern with the trail the way it is now.
“We don’t believe so,” said Whittemore.
“To me, a petrographic analysis tells you what the mineralology makeup of the concrete is,” said Mayor Bob Minning. “If I can forecast where that might be going, that tells me you’re looking at the supplier of the concrete as a potential liable party. What we, the residents and taxpayers of Treasure Island, are interested in is the solution. We’re interested in how it’s going to look when it’s all done.”
Whittemore again reiterated the importance of the petrographic test.
“For us to know what the fix is, we have to know what the problem is,” Whittemore said. “And one of the components of the issues we need to look at is the makeup of the concrete. That’s the reason for the petrographic analysis. It may say we’ve a load or structural issue or it may say there’s no structural issue and it’s strictly cosmetic.”
Minning reminded Booth and Whittemore the city expects a new trail.
“I think we all appreciate where you are,” said Minning. “But what disturbs me when we continue to hear the alternatives, because it might be cosmetic, that it leads us down a path of certain options to remedy the situation. We paid $1.2 million for a new trail, free of defects. That’s all we expect – no repairs, no fixes, no cutouts, no caulking the cracks. We expect a new trail, which we paid for.”
Commissioner Alan Bildz said he believes the 8-week period for the test results is yet another stalling tactic by Graham.
“It’ll be something else in eight weeks,” Bildz said. “It will go on and on.”