Surfside Mayor demands town access to condo collapse remains
Charles Burkett's opinion of his successor as Mayor seems to have soured over the past two years. Image via AP.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett
He says there are "significant concerns" about the condo's still-standing sister property nearby.

Miami-Dade County and Surfside are in a dispute over whether town personnel should be permitted to investigate the remains of Champlain Towers South, the condo that collapsed last month, killing 98 people.

The county has blocked Surfside staff from inspecting the condo remains on the basis that additional inspectors would hamper an ongoing county and federal investigation. But Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said the town has run out of patience on the matter, NBC 6 reported Tuesday.

“We want to make it absolutely clear that we object to being denied access to the site in order to conduct what we believe are urgent emergency structural and foundational investigations which may prevent another imminent building collapse in our town,” he said last week in a letter to Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

The other “imminent building collapse” to which Burkett referred, the Miami Herald reported Wednesday, is the collapsed condo’s sister property, Champlain Towers North, which was also built in 1981.

Burkett told reporters July 6 that Surfside engineers and officials were doing a “deep dive” structural review of the still-standing condo, which he said was built by the same developer using the same plans and likely with the same materials.

“We have significant concerns about that building and the residents in there,” he said.

Preliminary inspections of the building found “no signs the North complex is in danger of structural failure,” Surfside consulting engineer Allyn Kilsheimer told the Herald.

For the time being, Surfside staff will have to continue with preventive work and leave inspection of the collapsed condo to county and federal investigators, Levine Cava said in a statement Tuesday.

“As we have reinforced to the town over the last few weeks, it’s vital that the investigation move forward as expeditiously as possible while maintaining the integrity of the collapse site and all evidence,” she said.

Until a court gives non-county and nonfederal entities an OK to access the site, the arrangement in place today will remain, Miami-Dade Chief Operations Officer Jimmy Morales told the Herald, noting several ongoing lawsuits that each may call for independent investigations.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman appointed the Miami-Dade Bar to manage non-litigation pro bono services for those affected by the June 24 collapse.

Hanzman gave Michael Goldberg, a partner at law firm Akerman, the authority to make final decisions on behalf of Champlain condo owners, including granting up to $10,000 in insurance money to help them find new homes and up to $2,000 more to cover funeral costs.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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