Letters to the Editor: March 9, 2017

Published on: March 7, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Questions regarding CA building situation 


Dear Editor,

The following information is of concern to me after having attended the Sun City Center, Fla. “New Community Association Office Building Presentation” on Feb. 21, and speaking with SCC CA President/Director John Luper after the meeting.

First and foremost, I want to thank the committee members for their hard work.  It is a very difficult position and normally a thankless job to work tirelessly on a committee for the good of the community.  Nowhere do I want to indicate that any issue is not being handled in the best interest by the board for the benefit of all concerned.

I am a new resident to Sun City Center and during the meeting I learned that things here in Florida do not work the way they do in the rest of the country.

It was said that the current CA building is unsafe, and all the employees and volunteers should not occupy it.  The building was not built on a solid foundation but on piers (concrete blocks under the floor joists, and these blocks are shifting and could cause a collapse.) That they were placed on sand rather than on pilings, which should have been placed through the ground to solid rock, or should have been on  a solid-slab foundation, as many of the houses here in the community are built.

Was this a design flaw at the initial time of construction?  These (buildings) were originally model homes that were moved to the current location.  Did we hire a contractor at that time, and did he have proper insurance to do the job? Did we have an architect who provided services in the development of the original CA buildings, and was this person insured?  Most people have occurrence policies of insurance with completed operations and products liability; would these policies’ terms apply (now) if the buildings were insured for improper manufacture when they were constructed?

In most parts of the country the insurance policies for businesses are Business Owner’s Policies (BOP), which are like a homeowner’s policy, and they provide for collapse or other benefits.  Do we have a policy protecting the CA building and has anyone even looked into the policy to see if we have coverage for the issue at hand?

The CA has rented modular pods to house their staff and volunteers as we try and resolve this situation.  The cost of these units is costing us $12,000 per month until the completion of the project, but we cannot use the units because it seems that either pre-planning or promises made by Tampa Electric Company (TECO) have not been complied with.

Either way, residents are paying for empty facilities that are of no benefit.  The way it typically proceeds is that the utilities are brought to the site beforehand. When the buildings are delivered, the electrician connects the electricity without delay.

The $12,000 per month in costs is in addition to the $1.55 million we will pay for the construction of a new CA building.

I stopped by the CA office to pick up a copy of the meeting presentation and was  handed a nice 32-page brochure photocopied in full color, for which  a black and white presentation would have cost a lot less.  (One of my businesses was printing, and when I copied a document it cost 1 and one-half cents per side for black and white, and a colored copy was 29 cents per side.) If these were paid for by our CA funds, using the aforementioned estimates, each one of these brochures cost around $9.28 compared to 96 cents — for each 100 of these brochures, the cost was  $928 instead of black and white brochures costing $96. I hope other money is not being spent this way.

Now on to the new proposed CA building questions. We hired a construction manager with an architectural background. The CA board reviews the construction manager’s recommendations and hires an architect, who them makes recommendations of contractors, and the board hired a contractor to give him the cost of the building, ideas and materials.  Up North, for a project this small, most architects know construction costs and do not have to hire a builder to tell them what it would cost — but then I am now in Florida and Luper said “this is how they do it.”  In the North, the architect puts the contract out for bid, and we get the best price for the job — fully insured and bonded.

Our options have been explained to me that if we remodel and structurally make sound the existing building, we would have a building that is only good for 15 to 20 years.  This makes no sense to me, as if we remodel a building or build a new building and it is correctly built, in my opinion both buildings should last the same amount of time.  Buildings are remodeled every day throughout the United States, and if done properly both structures should have the same life expectancy.  Otherwise you would only tear down buildings and put up new.   Based on the cost estimate, the committee has stated that with a 10% contingency for unforeseen conditions, the total expense would be $935,000.

Reading over the cost to remodel it (the brochure) did not mention sprinklers; do we have sprinklers in the current building? The new building shows sprinklers, but I was told that this may not happen. Should it?

The brochure shows architecture/engineering fees of $50,000 for remodeling, and if I understand your choice of architect, Sol Design Studio, our total cost for the new building should have architecture/engineering fees of $54,250 in total.

I was told that the new structure will replace the old structure and the new building will gain 703 square feet. Will the new structure only replace the CA building’s 5,722 square feet or does this include the old security building at the corner, and if so has the square footage of that building been taken into account?

In the break room there will only be one rest room — is that legal in Florida in a public building?

The brochure shows liability insurance of 0%. Do these folks even have insurance for the project?

No bond is being sought and whoever builds without a bond is a fool in my opinion. They are  holding back a  10% contingency fee as the job progresses, and during the meeting I asked if without a bond, would the construction manager take responsibility and he replied “no.”  He said the contractor had been in business, as I recall,  for 37 years, but that is nothing as companies go out of business every day — even governments go out of business — just look at Orange County, California or Detroit, Mich.

Without a bond, if the contractor only completes, for example, 20 percent of the building, and he goes out of business, we only have 10 percent of the amount we have paid him. If we go with a new building, the amount would be $31,000 if we paid him $310,000. If we would have to find a new company to complete the building it could be an extra $200,000 or more — we would be left with only $31,000 instead of $200,000 with this hold back.  Also nobody wants to complete someone else’s work.

We have only $1.1 million in our coffer (funds) and we hope to take in around $60,000 per month for homes sold with $1,800 per home for capital expenditures.  Last year around 460 homes were sold.

Customarily, when you hire a company you have a fixed start date and a fixed completion date, with penalties if not completed on time and possible bonuses for early completion. (Remember, we are paying for the modular units in addition to the actual structure and it was said that “nothing in Florida gets done on time.”)   They estimate the structure will take  seven to eight months to complete, which  includes demolition of the current facility, but based on past experience it could be longer.  If so, we still be paying $12,000 a month for the rentals.  In addition, new furniture will need to be purchased. Sun City Center had a referendum about a year ago that no loans or indebtedness can be incurred on any project within Sun City Center, Fla.

I have written my piece, and it’s only purpose is food for thought.  I thank you for your time and consideration.

 Steven B. Drobnis

Sun City Center

The diet of Lent

Dear Editor,

March 1 marked the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period preceding Easter, when many Christians abstain from animal foods in remembrance of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the wilderness before launching his ministry.

The call to refrain from eating animals is as old as the Bible. In Genesis 1:29, God commands humans to eat only plants; then Prophet Isaiah predicts that “none will hurt or destroy on God’s holy mountain.”

A number of Christian leaders have followed the call, including Methodist founder John Wesley, Salvation Army founders William and Catherine Booth, Seventh-day Adventist Church founder Ellen G. White, and prominent evangelical leader Franklin Graham.

A meat-free diet is not just about Christian devotion. Dozens of medical studies have linked consumption of animal products with elevated risk of heart failure, stroke, cancer and other killer diseases. A United Nations report named meat production as the largest source of greenhouse gases and water pollution. Undercover investigations have documented farm animals being caged, crowded, mutilated, beaten and shocked.

Lent offers a superb opportunity to honor Christ’s powerful message of compassion, but also to protect the health of our family and our planet Earth by adopting a meat-free diet.

Rick Fiskner, Ruskin