A Town of Surfside official assured residents of Champlain Towers South that their building was “in very good condition” in November 2018, meeting minutes obtained by the CNN show – even though the official had received a warning report of “major structural damage” to the tower two days earlier, according to emails released by the city.
Rosendo Prieto, who at the time worked as the city’s construction manager, made the comments at a meeting of the tower co-owners association more than two years before the building collapsed, according to the minutes of the meeting of November 15, 2018.
“The structural engineer report was reviewed by Mr. Prieto,” the minutes read, apparently referring to a 2018 report by structural engineer Frank Morabito, which detailed the cracking and decay of the concrete. in the parking lot under the tower, among other important issues. Although Prieto noted that the report “was not in the format of the 40-year certification, it determined that the necessary data had been collected and it appears that the building is in very good condition,” the lawsuit says. verbal.
Apartment resident Susana Alvarez told NPR she attended the meeting – which took place in the building’s recreation room – and recalled a city representative saying, “The building was not in bad shape.”
Emails released by the city confirm that Prieto attended the meeting.
Two days before the meeting, on November 13, 2018, a member of the condominium board of directors, Mara Chouela, sent Prieto a copy of the structural engineer report, according to an email released by the city on Saturday. .
And the day after the meeting, Prieto sent another email to Guillermo Olmedillo, the former general manager, claiming that the condominium board meeting “went very well”.
“The response has been very positive from everyone in the room,” Prieto wrote in the November 16 email, which was released by the city on Sunday evening. “All major concerns about their forty-year recertification process have been resolved. “
He wrote that the building – which was built in 1981 – didn’t have to start recertification until 2021, “but they decided to start the process early, which I wholeheartedly approve and hope that this trend will spreads with other properties “.
It’s unclear how much work was done to repair the building before it collapsed – or whether the issues identified in the 2018 report contributed to the disaster. Morabito Consultants, the engineering firm that produced the report, said in a statement on Saturday that the condominium association hired her in June 2020 to prepare 40-year restoration plans, and that “repairs to the roof were in progress, but the concrete restoration had not yet started. ”When the building fell.
Prieto no longer works for Surfside and currently serves as the interim building manager for Doral, another city in Miami-Dade County, according to Doral’s website and a county document. Prieto did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.
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