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Most Condo Board Members Quit After 2019 Repairs Dispute

Plus, a chilling video, taken moments before Surfside building's collapse
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2021 7:51 AM CDT

(Newser) – As the search for survivors continues in Surfside, Fla., now with the help of robots, records show that five out of the seven members of the Champlain Towers South condo's board quit in the fall of 2019 after infighting over a report indicating structural damage. After that 2018 report came out, necessary repairs were repeatedly delayed as board members squabbled with condo owners and each other over the cost and logistics of the repairs, according to HOA records, board meeting minutes, and other correspondence, the Washington Post reports. In September 2019, board President Anette Goldstein stepped down, writing in her resignation letter: "We work for months to go in one direction and at the very last minute objections are raised that should have been discussed and resolved right in the beginning. This pattern has repeated itself over and over, ego battles, undermining the roles of fellow board members, circulation of gossip and mistruths." Four other members quit soon after.

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Records show Goldstein and some of the other board members did eventually return to their posts, and that delays continued as costs rose from an initial $9 million to $15 million. In April, the board's current president, Joan Wodnicki, told residents in a letter that the costly repairs couldn't be put off any longer. "The reality is that we live in an aging oceanfront building that needs work," she wrote. "[O]ur home needs attention, and this is not a surprise. We have known for several years now that this was coming." NPR reports that the board has now retained a crisis communications firm to handle inquiries in the wake of the building's collapse. Meanwhile, ABC News has video taken by a tourist moments before the condo crumbled, showing water gushing out of the ceiling in its parking garage and rubble strewn on the ground. The Miami Herald notes that the part of the garage shown in the video was identified in the 2018 report as having issues to the concrete slab above it. (Read more Florida condo collapse stories.)

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