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3 months after Surfside collapse, debate rages over land

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 10:56 PM EDT
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Friday marked exactly three months since the deadly Surfside condominium collapse.

Ninety-eight people were killed. Now there's an ongoing debate about what to do with the land where the Champlain Towers South condominium building once stood.

Three months hasn't been nearly enough time to heal the raw emotions of the many family members of the Surfside condo collapse victims.

"He showed me a new side of life, a life we wanted to share together with our children to come. But we were robbed of that dream on June 24th," said Vicky Vtesh.

Loved ones held pictures and gathered together on the beach near the collapse site Thursday, demanding a memorial be built on the same spot where the Champlain Towers South once stood.

"This spot is sacred," said Ronit Felszer. "It is unacceptable for the last place my son was alive to be anything but a memorial."

These families said they do not want new construction built where 98 people lost their lives.

But there's been an ongoing debate about what to do with the nearly 2-acre plot of land.

Some want it to be sold to the highest bidder to help financially support those who survived and the victim's families, while others said this is sacred land and only a memorial should be built here.

"Only three months ago, it's still pretty fresh in my mind," said state fire marshal Jimmy Patronis in West Palm Beach on Friday.

Patronis said the collapse in Surfside is the third-largest building failure in the history of the United States.

Concrete columns from the building are currently being investigated and analyzed for any defects to help determine what caused the collapse.

Meanwhile, Patronis said the future of the land should be left up to the families.

"I'm going to be very supportive of what the family members want," said Patronis. "Government doesn't need to intervene and try to determine what's in the best interest of that property."

It's a lengthy process and not an easy decision.

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