River Cities

Miami Springs councilwoman concerned about security at $5 million pool site

By Theo Karantsalis

Special to the Miami Herald

Miami Springs Councilwoman Rosie Buckner expressed concerns at Monday’s council meeting about security at the site of the new $5 million aquatic center.

“The gate was removed from the hinge and opened,” said Buckner, a retired Miami-Dade police officer, who drove by the site Sunday afternoon and questioned three men inside. “It concerned me because of the way they got in.”

Buckner frequently patrols the pool area, which is near her home. She told the site’s project manager Jorge Ferrer that she called for police backup when she saw the gate chain broken and no foreman inside.

One man was in a pickup truck “attempting to leave,” according to a Miami Springs police report obtained by the Herald. A supervisor later told police that the men were there “to finish a job.”

“Lord knows what else gets in there,” Buckner said.

“Or comes out,” Mayor Zavier M. Garcia said.

Some things that have “come out” of the site recently include ruptured fuel tanks, the Herald reported last week. [Link] One tank was removed and crushed before an inspector arrived on site, according to an Aug. 4 Department of Environmental Resources tank closure report.

Then there were five tons of “petroleum contaminated soil” scooped from the pool area and hauled off to a Medley landfill, according to an August city soil disposal report.

“The soil and groundwater analysis do not exceed the cleanup target levels referenced in Chapter 24 of the Miami-Dade County code,” read a letter sent Sept. 25 from the Division of Environmental Resources Management (DERM) to the city of Miami Springs.

But nothing has residents shaking like the bad vibrations coming from the site, according to emails obtained by the Herald through a public records request.

“I’m seeing cracks on the ceiling and walls especially in the corners that were not there prior to the construction,” wrote Judith Abrams last July in an email to the city. “My house is located immediately across from the excavation of the new pool and the vibration feels like a minor earthquake.”

Two doors down, Abram’s neighbor made similar complaints.

“Our house has been under constant vibration for almost two weeks, as they excavate, drill and tamper the soil for the new pool,” wrote Orlando Lamas last July in an email to the city. It’s now causing physical damage to our residence.”

Damage occurs during the day, residents said, while they are at work. The dollar cost of any construction-related damages remains unclear as the city has declined comment.

“Claim letters were received several months ago allegedly related to the construction of the pool, but the city forwarded all such claim letters to the contractor and the city’s insurance carrier,” wrote City Manager Ron Gorland in an email to the Herald. “Other than that the city has no further comment.”

Residents can file construction-related claims with the city via email to: gorlandr@miami<code_dp>springs-fl.gov

Council members each received copies of last week’s Herald story as part of the agenda, which was discussed during a pool update.

“In response the latest Herald article, all comments cited by DERM have been reviewed by the design build team and addressed,” wrote Project Manager Jorge Ferrer in an Oct. 23 email to the city. “As of yesterday afternoon, DERM has approved the plans.”

The new 6,000-square-foot pool structure that includes six lap-swimming lanes, a giant slide and a one-story administrative office building is expected to be completed by next summer.