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E-mail Address: 1regencytower@gmail.com

   



Old Regency Tower Rooftop Cooling Tower
Old Regency Tower Rooftop Cooling Tower
September 30, 2016 - As you are doubtless aware, our cooling tower project began on Wednesday, September 21. The old cooling tower that powered our air conditioners was shut down on Thursday, September 29 at 8 AM, and service was scheduled for restoration some time during Tuesday, October 4. Since rooftop construction is wholly dependent on weather conditions, delays due to high winds or rain would be announced immediately. If provided the opportunity, it was strongly recommended that residents “Get out of Dodge”.

Spot Cooler
Spot Cooler
For those of us who anticipated remaining in residence, the association arranged for the rental of room size air conditioning units called spot coolers. These units were made available for rent directly from the vendor. Those interested were exhorted to contact the office with the number of required units. The weekly rental fee included delivery, set-up, and removal. Since the days had often been brutally hot and the evenings uncomfortably humid, they were recommended for placement in bedrooms, especially for residents burdened by respiratory or coronary issues. The estimated cost was $400. A final agreement would be executed between the unit owner and the vendor. Each unit could cool one large or two standard rooms. A quick response was requested - as time was short.

Although most of our owners were pleased that the cooling tower project was finally underway, some had expressed confusion about the project’s scheduling and others thought we were moving too fast. Since our May 2016 Cooling Tower Report, a series of planned and unplanned events dictated how – and why – the project was finally launched. This report will help fill in some blanks.


Why Now?

There is no such thing as a “good time” to lose air conditioning in Florida. During the past year, scores of owners were questioned about scheduling the project. An overwhelming majority made one of two recommendations. We were admonished to avoid the “dog days” of late June, July and August as well as the extended Holiday Season from November through March.

While it is clearly preferable to schedule the project when the fewest people are in residence (over the summer months), that is also when the weather is most brutal. Temperatures are cooler in January and February, which explains why the occupancy rate skyrockets during those months, as the building fills with visiting friends and family. The annual influx of our “snowbirds” begins in late October and early November, extends through the Holiday Season and wanes in late March and April (as the temperatures in “second” homes grow increasingly comfortable).

That leaves two “windows of opportunity”: from mid-September to mid-October – or from May to mid-June. Ironically, although the project commenced during one of these seasonal “sweet spots”, it had little to do with data harvested from “pool talk” or elevator debates, but a more compelling factor – your wallet.

Regulatory Rat Traps

While crawling through City of Fort Lauderdale design review, a wide variety of permitting issues were addressed. Akin to swimming in molasses, more than a year was spent negotiating two specific requirements that would have exploded project costs. Fortunately, we began the replacement process while the tower is still fully functional and serviceable, affording us sufficient time to contest costly regulatory mandates with no ostensible benefit.

SPEC Structural Engineer John Evans P.E.
SPEC Engineer
John Evans
Click to SPEC Engineering website The first major obstacle was resolved in March. As detailed in our May report, design review initially required evacuation of the cooling tower into a sanitary drain. Like most high-rise structures built 40 years ago, we have a rooftop storm drain and a sanitary drain in the garage (where our domestic water enters and leaves the property). Building a sanitary drain on the roof that extends to street-level could cost several hundred thousand dollars. Fortunately, our consulting engineer, John Evans of SPEC Engineering, negotiated an acceptable work-around. On March 30, 2016, the plumbing examiner charged with vetting our project’s drainage plans approved the use of a vent stack with an increaser. Evans estimated the cost at roughly $12,000.

Playa del Mar & Galt Ocean Club - Walled Cooling Towers
Playa del Mar & Galt Ocean Club - Walled Cooling Towers
Far more elusive, the second obstacle was still being negotiated when the May report was released. Plan examiners had demanded that an aesthetically acceptable “screen” be erected around the cooling tower, a code requirement for construction visible from any public right-of-way. Given its rooftop location, only a category-5 hardened wall would suffice - at an estimated cost ranging to $100,000.

Playa del Mar
Playa del Mar and Regency Tower
Since the only public right-of-way from which the old cooling tower was visible is a 40-foot stretch of Galt Ocean Drive in front of Playa del Mar, after several screening alternative were rejected, we proposed relocating the planned tower from its former site at the edge of the building to the middle of the roof, where it could no longer be seen from the street. Following another inexplicable rejection, our engineer conferenced with Fort Lauderdale Interim Assistant Building Official Victor Blanco, who reversed course and approved the revision on July 15, 2016.

Click to Smart Air Systems website Since this strategic adaptation was anticipated as a possible regulatory remedy, it was included in the Association’s 2015 Assessment Report, and fully funded as a contingent expense. Our engineer and contractor Smart Air Systems agreed that relocating the cooling tower would require a new support stand anchored to the roof, additional piping and new electrical lines. After calling on subcontractor J.S Steel Fabricators to price out building the stand, and consulting with their Electrical and Plumbing subcontractors, Smart Air estimated the additional cost at $40,000 – a no-brainer – as it would obviate the need for a $100,000 “eyesore wall”. Unfortunately, the contractor didn’t realize that the crane included in their bid was already stretched to its maximum capacity. They would need a larger, more expensive crane to reach the middle of our roof.

Crane Crap Shoot

Drain Components Under Lower Driveway
Drain Components Under Lower Driveway
Click to J.S Steel Fabricators The north and south parking decks that cover our garage are structurally insufficient to support the weight of the larger crane. Since the heavier crane would also threaten a system of French Drains, catch basins and a gravity well interred in the lower driveway, our engineer enumerated our alternatives: the crane could either be staged in the street or on one of the two adjacent association properties. Since northern neighbor Playa del Mar also has a below grade garage, their deck would be equally vulnerable to collapse, so they were not an option.

Staging the crane in the street is marred by two adverse impacts. First, an even larger crane would be required to lift the new tower across the broad span from Galt Ocean Drive to the middle of the roof, which would hike the cost by an additional $40,000 - $45,000 (as estimated by several crane operators).
Huge Hunter Merchant Crane
Huge Hunter Merchant Crane
Second - setting up on the public right-of-way would require another city permit, and given concerns expressed by Fort Lauderdale design review about damaging underground utilities, the permit application would also require extensive evidentiary documentation (underground x-rays, engineering reports, etc.) and add an unknown number of months to the approval process. Resigned to being saddled with an unavoidable additional expense, on August 1, Smart Air Systems submitted a change order for the extra costs. After a year of battling with the City to cut regulatory costs, we had no intention of passing a chunk of the hard-fought windfall to a contractor.

Our neighbor to the south - Galt Ocean Club - has no sub-grade garage. Their unit owners park across the street in a rented underground garage located beneath Winn-Dixie. If we could prevail upon the Galt Ocean Club Board of Directors to approve use of their parking deck as a staging area, its close proximity to our building would allow us to use the smaller crane, avoid the permitting delays, reverse the significant incremental cost, and shred the Smart Air change order.

A Good Neighbor

Winn Dixie Garage Entrance
Winn Dixie Garage Entrance
Regency Tower and Galt Ocean Club
Regency Tower and Galt Ocean Club
At a preliminary meeting, Galt Ocean Club Administrator (manager) Israel Gonzalez advised that their Board didn’t want to pay for possible damage repairs and wait for reimbursement. Our engineer suggested that we provide a modest financial reserve with which they could repair likely impacts to their pavers, perimeter wall, planters, landscaping, etc. Israel also asked if we could commence construction as soon as possible, and complete the project prior to an October influx of returning Galt Ocean Club snowbirds

Galt Ocean Club North Deck
Galt Ocean Club North Deck
As recommended by their Board President in mid-August, we packaged a formal request to their Board with a site plan indicating where the crane would be staged on their deck. The request included protective protocols for their residents and a plan to indemnify property damage. We also agreed to add their association to the crane operator’s liability coverage. After several weeks of negotiations, the Galt Ocean Club board conducted a vote to determine whether we could use their deck. On September 5, we were notified that they had agreed to help us remedy this dilemma, despite the substantial inconvenience to their own members.

Click to Campny Roof Maintenance We moved expeditiously to take advantage of this opportunity. Pending Galt Ocean Club approval, general contractor Smart Air (and electrical, mechanical and plumbing subcontractors) was prepared to mobilize, as was Campany Roofing, a roof maintenance outfit charged with performing on-site repairs to membrane penetrations. Smart Air still had to schedule the crane, which could not be done until a commitment was received from Galt Ocean Club. Once the contractor and the crane operator locked up a date, Manager Kande Lewandowski pumped out scheduling notices for residents on September 12 – detailing dates and duration of the impending project.

Opening Bell

Twin Towers Take Flight
Twin Cooling Towers Take Flight
Click to Hunter Merchant Crane On Monday, September 19, consecutive pre-construction meetings toggled between the Rendezvous Room and the roof; enabling our engineer to effectively integrate contractor and subcontractor work schedules. On Wednesday, September 21, J.S. Steel mechanics began assembling the new tower’s mid-roof support stand. After each section of the support base was affixed to the roof, our roofer restored membrane integrity to the attachment site, as our warranty is conditional on the roof remaining waterproof.

Twin Cooling Towers on Roof Stand
Cooling Towers on New Roof Stand
On Tuesday, September 27, a fleet of enormous vehicles and a “helper crane” descended on the Galt Ocean Club north parking deck, where a crew of Hunter Merchant Crane mechanics began assembling the huge crane. After extending the 80-foot crane an additional 160 feet, the new twin cooling towers staged on our deck were flown to the roof on September 28, and attached to the new base. Once the old tower was disabled at 8 a.m. on September 29, Smart Air technicians expunged its content while a team of electricians and plumbers disconnected the electrical and drainage lines. The old tower was later guided into the lower driveway parking deck, where it was disassembled by a demolition crew and prepared for scrap disposal.

The New and Old Cooling Towers
The New and Old Cooling Towers - What a Difference
On Friday, September 30, the crane on the Galt Ocean Club parking deck was dismantled and removed. Manager Kande Lewandowski organized a staff cleanup of the staging area and took a damage inventory that will be addressed at their Board’s discretion. At an ad hoc Friday evening progress meeting with the contractor, it was mutually concluded that the work might be completed by Saturday night instead of Tuesday, as originally planned.
Kande Watches Project Unfold
Kande Watches Project Unfold
Once the weekend overtime was authorized, a crew of mechanics and electricians shrugged off an early Saturday morning shower and spent the day connecting the new tandem cooling towers to the drainage lines, the upgraded electrical controls and the condenser pump in the Maintenance Room. After bleeding air from the lines and troubleshooting start-up procedures, the new system became operational at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday evening. From 7 to 9 p.m., Lewandowski and Board President Eileen Bendis led a team of security staffers through our hallways, and conducted a floor by floor reboot of two hundred closeted A/C units.

In contrast with the two-week timetable announced prior to commencing construction, the project was completed ten days after the September 21 launch date, a new record on the Galt Mile for a cooling tower replacement. More importantly, since the six days planned for the actual switchover was halved; those of us in residence only had to “sweat it out” with fans and spot coolers for less than three days. Working closely with our engineer to quickly resolve construction issues, our contractors had exceeded our expectations. We also had a secret weapon.

The Secreat Weapon

Maintenance Chief Charlie Davis
Maintenance Chief Charlie Davis
In addition to their regular duties, our staffers went the extra mile to expedite the project and smooth the inconvenience for those in residence. While in constant communication with project planners, Manager Kande Lewandowski raced between the office, the roof, the lower deck, the Maintenance Room, the Front Desk and the Receiving Room to vaporize project roadblocks. Maintenance Chief Charlie Davis provided the contractors with equipment and materials as requested. Chief of Security Eddie Rodgers assisted their crews with cordoning temporary danger zones, which his security staffers restored for use by our residents afterwards. Vehicles neglected by owners exploring last-minute departure plans were either jump started or fully recharged, as residents who appeared distressed were escorted to their homes and contacted again later to check their condition.

Chief of Security Eddie Rodgers
Chief of Security Eddie Rodgers
Incidents concerning the project or our residents’ well-being were immediately reported to association officials and our manager. In turn, they followed up with a timely call to our engineer, a contractor, or a resident who requested assistance. Using this “early warning system”, our engineer and planning team were able to resolve potential obstacles before they could delay the project. It paid off. On Sunday morning, while those in residence expressed a combination of disbelief and delight with the early completion, out-of-town owners called or emailed to confirm that air conditioning was restored three days ahead of schedule before returning to their South Florida homes.

We owe a debt of gratitude to our neighbors in Galt Ocean Club, which we will repay in kind when they need our help. Their sacrifice unraveled a Gordian Knot of regulatory delays and saved us a bundle. Throughout the project, our board and manager aspired to three goals – replacing the aging tower, minimizing the inconvenience – and staying on budget. These objectives were met. While the common areas undergo a long-awaited modernization, preparations will commence for a concrete restoration to rehabilitate our balconies, building columns and expansion joints. For a preliminary update – stay tuned.

Post Script: Mother Nature’s Acid Test

Click to Hurricane Matthew Click to Hurricane Matthew A few days after our A/C was restored, Hurricane Matthew battered the South Florida coast. While those who remained in residence were understandably fearful of the fierce devastation threatened by the offshore cyclone, the newly expanded beach absorbed the high-energy storm surge, our impact glass windows and doors repelled the windstorm onslaught and the new rooftop cooling towers – unscathed by 130-mph winds – provided uninterrupted control of our environment throughout the ordeal. This was no “happy accident”. Among the reasons why City officials approved eliminating the requirement for a wall around the cooling tower were plans submitted by our engineer demonstrating a substructure fortified to withstand hurricane-force winds.

Before and during the storm, employees, association officials and residents took care of one another – like a family. Thanks to staffers directed by Manager Kande Lewandowski - who efficiently implemented the Board’s Hurricane preparation protocols – a cursory post-storm inspection of the entire association property (including the roof) revealed negligible damage. More on this later...


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Systems Shut-down

Tuesday, December 1 - 5 a.m.


Planned System Outages for Power System Project

SPEC Structural Engineer John Evans P.E.
SPEC Engineer John Evans
Click to Fischer Electric website November 24, 2015 - On Tuesday, December 1, our home will temporarily lose services critical to our quality of life. The project to replace our emergency power system is at a key juncture, as scores of electrical connections must be meticulously transferred from our existing equipment to components in the new system. A team of electricians from Fischer Electric will install our new electrical panels and an automatic transfer switch - a device that automatically distributes the load from a grid to an emergency power source upon detecting a power failure. Unfortunately, there is no way to safely accomplish this without turning off the power to the panels that feed our water pump (NO running water), the elevators and the cooling tower (NO A/C). Below is a message from SPEC engineer John Evans, who offers a technical explanation for the impending inconvenience. Long experienced in guiding such projects to completion, he also provides some excellent advice. It should seem familiar, as a similar message was distributed to unit owners and posted about the premises.


Click to SPEC Engineering website

Attention: Regency Tower Residents
Systems Shutdown Scheduled for December 1, 2015

Old Electrical Panel in Meter Room
Old Electrical Panel in Meter Room
In order to install the new automatic transfer switch and new emergency panels which are part of the emergency generator replacement, power to these panels will be interrupted. These panels contain the breakers controlling - among other systems - the elevators, domestic water pumps and condenser water pumps. This means that these systems will be inoperable for at least twelve (12) hours and potentially longer.

New Generac Automatic Transfer Switch
Automatic Transfer Switch
There will be NO air conditioning, NO running water, and NO elevator service during this period.

The contractor performing the work has committed to working continuously for as long as necessary to restore operations.

Due to this major disruption of the building’s operations and the uncertainty of the time required to restore the systems, it is highly recommended that all residents vacate the building for the entire day of this work.

As work is scheduled to begin at 5:00 a.m., you should plan to leave your unit and descend to the lobby prior to that time.

John Evans
SPEC Engineering

Power Off, Power On

Originally, the plan entailed cutting electric power to the entire building. On November 23, Engineer Evans sent us a reconfigured electrical protocol that dispensed with the full power outage by specifically targeting those panels involved with the new connections, which consequently also service the condenser water pump, the domestic water pump and the elevators. As such, our refrigerators and freezers will not be turned into "ice boxes" during the changeover, eliminating the risk to unit owners for $thousands in frozen or chilled foodstuffs. Barring some unanticipated catastrophic obstacle, the crew will continue working until the building is once again fully operational. The electrical upgrades will seamlessly accommodate the new generator upon its arrival.

Fischer's team of electricians will begin disconnecting the electrical panels in the Meter Room at 4 a.m. The elevators will become inoperable at 5 a.m. That means if you don't come down to the lobby by 5 a.m. sharp, you will have to walk down the stairs to exit the building. To avoid a hectic rush to beat the pre-dawn deadline, why not check in to a local hotel the night before, and wake up to a leisurely breakfast in bed.

Up the block are the Ocean Manor and Ocean Sky Hotels on Galt Ocean Drive. If you want a bit more luxury and lack a pathological compulsion to hoard nickels, try the Marriott Residence Inn Fort Lauderdale Intracoastal (formerly Il Lugano) just across A1A on the Intracoastal. Truth be told, when was the last time you treated yourself like the guests who enjoy your hospitality? Go on - take a day for yourself!


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SPEC Structural Engineer John Evans P.E.
SPEC Engineer
John Evans
Click to SPEC Engineering website September 30, 2015 - In May of 2014, when technicians from American Generator Services (the company contracted to maintain our generator) admonished that our 45-year old back-up power source was on its last legs, SPEC Engineer John Evans recommended that we immediately launch a replacement process, since installing a new emergency power system could take more than a year. Although manufacturer’s delivery might only take several months, and another three to four weeks for the actual construction, Evans observed that regulatory issues could delay the installation for an additional six months to a year.

Fort Lauderdale City Manager Lee Feldman
City Manager Lee Feldman
Recently, our plans for a new emergency power system (generator) finished wending their way through a tortuous - and enigmatic - design review process. A process largely orchestrated by a City Department that was recently parboiled and turned on its head. Last year, Fort Lauderdale City Manager Lee Feldman cleaned house. After dismantling Building Services, Code Enforcement, Planning and Zoning, and other municipal fiefdoms more concerned with turf protection than customer service; these agencies were fitted with new management and reincarnated as divisions in the Department of Sustainable Development. Headquartered in the Greg Brewton Sustainable Development Center at 700 NW 19th Avenue, a battery of inspection stations (AKA “desks”) are dedicated to “Design Review”.


The Municipal Gauntlet

Greg Brewton Sustainable Development Center
Greg Brewton Sustainable Development Center
When a permit application is received by the City, after a Building Services administrator identifies those construction disciplines component to the project, a Service Clerk routes the documentation to the relevant plan inspectors for review. If approved by an inspector, the reviewed application is either forwarded to the next “desk” or stamped complete and sent to support staff to await retrieval by the property owner or contractor. If not approved, the inspector drafts “notes” - a set of issues or questions to be addressed by the applicant. When the completed responses are returned to the inspector, the process continues. A permit is only granted after every “desk” assigned to the project issues an approval.

Click to Fort Lauderdale Permit Application The majority of applications warrant review by no more than three inspectors. With few exceptions, permits issued to association unit owners for home improvements are vetted at desks dedicated to plumbing, electrical and/or structural review - and usually approved within several business days. However, when an association solicits a permit for a more complex project, the application makes additional stops - whether for landscaping, zoning, floodplain management, etc. - depending on anticipated project impacts. As for our planned Regency Tower emergency power system, the following is a summary of its travels through the City’s design review minefield.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Click to Fischer Electric websiteOn April 14, a permit application submitted by Fischer Electric was logged in by Fort Lauderdale Service Clerk Cecile Thomas, and tagged for initial review by inspectors in Building/Structural, Electrical, Floodplain Management, Landscaping, Mechanical (A/C), Plumbing and Zoning – virtually every desk in plan review. On April 16, it was sent to the Structural and Electrical desks; it passed structural in 2 hours as Chief Electrical Inspector Scott Dry approved the electrical component in only 50 minutes. On April 20, it was sent to plumbing, where Plumbing Inspector Greg Diaz added “notes” inquiring about piping, gas consumption rates and requesting additional drawings. While the notes were being addressed, the project was reviewed on April 22 by Structural Plans Examiner Victor Blanco in Zoning, who added notes questioning the project’s impact on outdoor parking – a strange request for a project located in the garage. On April 23, Landscape Inspector Karl Lauridsen signed off on the plan, surmising an absence of landscaping in the maintenance room.

Click to Design Review Permit Info Although Fischer responded to Diaz’ plumbing inquiries and Blanco’s parking concerns within a few days, the permit application collected dust until June 3, when the Floodplain Manager asked if the equipment was planned for installation at or above the base Flood Elevation. On the same day, Mechanical Inspector Paolo Serafini added notes demanding new drawings that show relocated exhaust outlets and ducts discharging to the outdoors. He specified that the revised drawings should demonstrate termination points 10 feet from the property lines; 3 feet from exterior walls and roofs; and 10 feet from operable openings into the building. Despite their unconditional irrelevance to the project located in the maintenance room, the drawings were executed and returned a few days later. After another three weeks, on July 1, Serafini asked for another drawing showing how the pipes are supported and inquired if exterior project elements adequately resist wind loads.

Gas Cut-off Valve Click to Fort Lauderdale Generator Permit Info Three weeks after Fischer responded, on July 24, Chief Plumbing Inspector Joe DeMaio appropriated the plumbing review from Diaz, and added three more notes. He requested a drawing that shows the shut-off valve after the gas meter and different piping to the new generator. In his last note, he lowered the boom. After four months in City plan review, he informed Fischer that the project must also be approved by Broward County.


Broward Takes a Bite

Click to Florida Building Code While Florida Law vests the City of Fort Lauderdale with enforcement of The Florida Building Code for most construction, it cedes jurisdiction to Broward County for certain projects, including Swimming Pools and Elevators. Recently, certain projects were reclassified for discretionary dual review by the County and the City – including generators. Ironically, details about this additional regulatory rain dance were never announced to the building trades and engineering communities. At the end of the day, Evans observations about the City’s obtuse regulatory practices for life-safety projects were borne out.

Click to Permit Info Click to Broward County Permitting Division Once approved by the County, the project was bounced back to the City, where it was returned to mechanical and plumbing on August 18, the only two desks that hadn’t yet approved the plans. On August 20, the plan was reviewed and approved by a third Plumbing Inspector – Joe Kajak. On August 22, the plan made its way back to Mechanical Plans Examiner Paolo Serafini. Despite intensive investigation and a truckload of notes, Serafini finally indicated that no mechanical review was requiredy. After emailing an August 24 notice of the permit’s approval and collecting all outstanding fees, Building Services Clerk Robin McIntosh sent it to the Reception Desk for pickup on August 25, 2015. According to Fischer, while this regulatory roller coaster has been exasperating, it was far from the worst he had experienced – citing one project that was under scrutiny for more than a year. Also, this is not our first marathon dance with design review – as it took six months to land permission for replacing our roof.

Click to Permit Info The permit hunt prompted the contractor to apply for two change orders. On August 28, we picked up a $450 expense to comply with DeMaio’s request for a detailed load drawing of the entire gas line - with all attached appliances. On September 14, Change Order #2 was submitted for $1996 in permit fees for the project, the gas line, and filing fees for Permit Services, Notice of Commencement, etc. Verified by the Engineer, the cumulative invoice of $2446 was addressed with a draft from the regulatory contingency provided for this purpose.

Click to Generac Website Securing the permit also triggered a vendor payment of $44,000 - contractually earmarked for the purchase of equipment, which was ordered just after Labor Day. On September 11, receipt of manufacturer and distributor shipping windows affirmed major equipment deliveries through November. Demolition commenced in the garage on September 21, where channels that will house interred concrete encased conduit were carved in the maintenance room, the meter room and the connecting hallway. Inspected by our Engineer on September 24, the excavation must also be examined and approved by a City Inspector, a protocol anticipated for every step of the project.

The silver lining – having been alerted to the previously undisclosed requirement for County review, regulatory approval for our cooling tower will be simultaneously solicited from the City and County. Like the emergency power system, a cooling tower installation is among the handful of association projects scrutinized by every desk in Design Review. Without convincing evidence of an impending disaster, there is no “fast track” option. Instead, after exercising reasonable due diligence, the association will once again take a deep breath, hold its nose, and patiently navigate this mind-numbing “House of Mirrors”.


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Spalling concrete and exposed rusting rebar
Spalling Concrete and Exposed Rusting Rebar
Balcony with Minor Spalling
Clean Bill of Health
February 12, 2015 - Last Spring,
a report prepared for the board of directors summarized the structural status of three building elements critical to our safety and/or quality of life. Released to the membership on July 10, 2014, it described the measures taken by our engineer to evaluate our balconies, his conclusion that the “minor spalling” merits annual revisitation and his recommendation to delay a concrete rehabilitation until the association was prepared to paint the building. His pronouncements for the aging cooling tower and fast-decomposing emergency generator were far darker, having advised immediate replacement.

The backup generator enables critical fire safety systems during a power outage, when we are most vulnerable to a flash fire. In powering emergency hallway lighting and an elevator, elderly residents who are unable to navigate the stairs will not be stranded on the upper floors. Providing emergency power to the garage door preserves the means for unit owners with garaged vehicles to optionally depart Regency Tower if the power fails. Click to SPEC Engineering website The importance of our cooling tower is self-evident, since every air conditioner in the building is operationally dependent on its unflagging functionality. As such, the board approved a new generator and cooling tower; authorizing John Evans of Swaysland Professional Engineering Consultants, Inc. (SPEC) to commence the replacement process on June 25, 2014. Although a structural engineer, Evans consulted with mechanical and electrical engineers who respectively specialize in power management and HVAC.

The Emergency Generator Assessment

SPEC Structural Engineer John Evans P.E.
SPEC Engineer
John Evans
Click to Broward County 40 Year Building Safety Inspection Program On June 26, Evans accompanied Coral Springs Electrical Engineer Carlos A. Estenoz P.E. (of Estenoz Engineering Inc.) on the first in a series of site visits to our generator. No stranger to the association’s engineering footprint, a few years earlier Estenoz performed a comprehensive electrical inspection of Regency Tower in compliance with the County-mandated 40-Year Building Safety Certification. As Estenoz began reconfiguring the generator, fire pump, relevant switchgears and connecting conduit, Evans faced a regulatory dilemma.

As 1970s developer-installed generators along the Galt Mile became candidates for replacement, City Code Officials restricted the new generators to outdoor placements. Relocating our generator to an outdoor site would skyrocket costs – and the financial burden on unit owners. Expenditures for extensive camouflage landscaping to cloak this mechanical eyesore (as required by City code) and a costly noise-dampening envelope (another code requirement) would be topped off with a long, interred channel of expensive copper conduit connecting the remote exterior location to the meter room in the garage.

Investigating the rationale for this noisy, ugly, budget-busting regulatory dogma, Evans learned that Fort Lauderdale Code officials had two reservations about garage generator installs along the Galt Mile. In addition to trepidations about storm surge flooding the below grade garage of a beachfront association, building officials were also concerned about prospective heat buildup in poorly ventilated interior rooms.

Click to NFPA
Regency Tower's Original Onan Emergency Generator
Regency Tower's Original Onan Emergency Generator
To preserve an expansive indoor parking area (Galt Mile garages were originally envisioned to house valet parking), Galt Mile developers spatially shortchanged garage level mechanical rooms (for generators, pool pumps, electrical equipment & meters, fire pumps, etc.). They systematically plunked 5-foot generators into 6-foot x 7-foot closet-like enclosures. While these engines were designed to survive thermal extremes (sustained periods of 100 degrees and higher within minutes of ignition), people are not. When reclassified as unsafe by the evolving NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) Life Safety Code, the grandfathered exemptions that shielded these enclosures from code violations were forfeit when the generators were replaced.

Fortunately, the Regency Tower generator site differs from those of our neighbors, as the original garage-level generator enclosure was subsequently opened to the large adjacent Maintenance Room. On meeting with code officials, Evans demonstrated that the current indoor location was not only expansive and well-ventilated, but also air conditioned (in 2004, our maintenance guys rehabilitated a discarded air conditioner for use in the Maintenance room).

Regency Tower Fire Pump
Regency Tower Fire Pump
To dispel regulatory concerns about storm surge, Evans described how chronic flooding that used to plague the garage was cured by the 2003 construction of a lower driveway subsurface drainage system and gravity well (a project which Evans supervised). Years before the flooding issues were permanently corrected, the association had erected a wainscot waterproof protective barrier around the generator (and a similar 4-foot wall in the meter room to protect the association’s electrical switchgears & breakers), serendipitously providing a secondary defense against storm surge flooding.

Click to NFPA Within 5 weeks, Estenoz modeled a new emergency power system around an engine manufactured by Generac Power Systems and based on the regulatory concessions negotiated by Evans. By increasing the size of the new generator from 115 kW to 150 kW, Estenoz eliminated the need for an expensive soft starter on the fire pump, explaining “I prefer to keep the system simpler and put the money into a little larger generator than complicating the fire pump controller with reduce voltage or a soft starter.” On August 12, Estenoz submitted his completed project drawings and technical specifications of the Generac generator to Evans, who compiled the documentation into bid packages on August 14.

Click to Fischer Electric website On August 19, the bid packages were sent to four reputable vendors, including American Generator Services (the company that maintains our generator), Fischer Electric (installed our deck lamps and Playa del Sol’s emergency generator), Kerney & Associates (a Dania Beach contractor recommended by Evans) and Edd Helms (formerly maintained our HVAC systems - until replaced by a less costly “competitor”). The vendors submitted bids by the September 12 deadline; except for Edd Helms (whose representative later admitted that “someone dropped the ball”).

Click to Edd Helms Group The bid submitted by Kerney & Associates was $194,050 and Fischer Electric submitted a proposal for $149,400. On behalf of American Generator Services (AGS), a contractor they use for new installations called Toro Engineering submitted a bid for $236,292. Inexplicably, AGS ignored the bid parameters that called for installing the Generac generator and priced a much more expensive model manufactured by Kohler. Since a contract’s profitability is often a percentage of the overall project cost, goosing costs with more expensive products is a tactic commonly used to flesh out a contractor’s bottom line.

Click to Toro Emgineering website Click to Fischer Electric website Angered by the AGS self-serving attempt to explode project costs, at a September 25 meeting to discuss the bids, John Evans declared that Generac makes an excellent generator, an opinion shared by Estenoz. Likening Kohler to the “Rolls Royce of the generator world,” he added that it was “clearly unnecessary for our purposes.” In a bid report he submitted on September 28, Evans explained “At a cost difference of $70,000 it does NOT seem warranted for a piece of equipment that will likely run no more than 55 hours a year!” Board members agreed. Our objective is to install an efficient and reliable generator, without unnecessarily increasing the assessment burden.

Click to American Generator Services website During the bid review, Evans enumerated additional expenses that the association would have to directly address, including two regulatory costs that hinge on last minute opinions rendered by the Fire Department and Building Services. Since no generator will be available during the changeover, the Building Department may require a “standby” generator to power emergency systems in the event of a power outage - an expense reckoned at $2,000 a week for about two weeks - totaling $4000. Secondly, when the fire pump conductor is changed, the fire pump will be down for a few days. During this hiatus, the Fire Department may demand that we implement a fire watch. For this task, the Department could either require that we hire a firefighter or assign the responsibility to our security staff. If directed to hire a firefighter, a 5-day watch could cost an additional $4800.

Click to American Generator Services website An elective expense relates to warranty protection. Although the Generac generator is warranted for two years, the company offers an optional 5-year warranty for an additional $1750. Lastly, engineering costs for design and bid management were $8,500. Incorporating the $8,500 for engineering, the $1750 cost of an extended 5-year warranty, the possible $4000 rental expense for an interim generator and $4800 for a firefighter to serve as a “fire watch” will add $19,050 to an assessment.

Of the two bids received for the specified Generac engine, Fischer’s bid of $149,400 was roughly 23% less expensive than the Kerney proposal for $194,050. Given Evans’ conclusion that the proposed services were essentially the same, the board accepted the bid from Fischer Electric. Cushioning the bid price of $149,400 with a standard 20% contingency totaling $29,880 increases the project cost to $179,280. Adding the $19,050 for engineering, warranty and prospectively mandated regulatory costs brings the total project assessment to $198,330.

The Cooling Tower Assessment

Regency Tower Rooftop Cooling Tower
Regency Tower Rooftop Cooling Tower
When asked to commence preparations for replacing the cooling tower on October 1, Evans solicited input from several engineering disciplines. Carlos Estenoz would update the electrical drawings while Evans recruited Parkland-based Mechanical Engineer Richard G. Corbett to integrate the new cooling tower into our HVAC system. Evans would draft wind load specs, design the support stand and mold the team’s “scope of work” into a bid package. On October 6, Evans forwarded the completed plans to Regency Tower for approval.

Playa del Mar & Galt Ocean Club - Walled Cooling Towers
Playa del Mar & Galt Ocean Club - Walled Cooling Towers
Prior to creating vendor bid packages, Evans had to investigate several regulatory land mines. If the cooling tower is visible from any public right-of-way, City code requires that an aesthetically acceptable “screen” be erected to mollify a potential “eyesore.” Cooling towers atop several other Galt Mile associations are cloaked by such hurricane-proof privacy walls – including Galt Ocean Club and Playa del Mar. At its current location on the north side of the roof, our cooling tower is visible from a 40-foot stretch of Galt Ocean Drive in front of Playa del Mar. Although we hope to reason with the assigned inspector, code enforcement may opt to drop the hammer. Citing some similar SPEC projects completed in the past decade, Evans priced the job at $70,000 to $100,000.

Seeking a less costly alternative, we asked Evans to ascertain the cost of relocating the cooling tower to the center of the roof, which would eliminate line-of-sight visibility from the street. After consulting with the Mechanical Engineer, Evans estimated the cost at $35,000 to $40,000, clipping $60 grand from the contingency.

Click to Thermal Concepts website Evans described a second potential regulatory expense. When the old cooling tower is emptied, City code requires its discharge into a sanitary drain. Unfortunately, we only have a rooftop storm drain. Admonishing that a Hallandale code officer refused to allow an association to evacuate their cooling tower into a storm drain, Evans devised a solution if faced with the same obstacle. Since the rooftop storm drain descends through the entire building, the discharge can be intercepted in the garage, where it can be piped to a nearby sanitary drain. He postulated the cost of this work-around at $12,000. Evans also estimated impending project management costs at $5000. The $40,000 to relocate the cooling tower, $12,000 to reroute the effluent to a sanitary drain and $5000 for construction oversight could inflate the project cost by $57,000.

Click to Smart Air Systems website Contractors invited to bid on the project included Kerney & Associates, Thermal Concepts (the vendor that installed our current cooling tower) and Smart Air Systems (a Margate contractor also recommended by Evans). A fourth vendor declined to bid. Bid packages sent in mid-November were returned by the December 15, 2014 deadline. Kerney & Associates offered to complete the project for $294,700. The Thermal Concepts bid was $285,625 and Smart Air Systems submitted a proposal for $218,836. Upon Evans’ confirmation that services provided in the three proposals were substantially similar, the board selected the $218,836 Smart Air bid – in a heartbeat.

To provide for unanticipated construction problems, the base bid of $218,836 was padded with a standard 20% contingency cushion of $43,767, raising the project cost to $262,603. The $57,000 for prospective regulatory expenses will bring the total cooling tower assessment to $319,603.

The Total Assessment: Nosing Around the Block

Adding the $198,330 cost for the new generator to a $319,603 expense for the cooling tower yields a total assessment of $517,933 for both projects. How do these anticipated costs stack up to those of similar projects in neighboring associations? Ironically, with the exception of L’Hermitage I & II and L’Ambiance (built in 1998, 1999 and 2003) other Galt Mile associations have already replaced their original generators (most of them were swapped out prior to the Millennium).

Playa del Sol
Playa del Sol
The last association to do so (before us) – Playa del Sol – replaced its emergency generator in 2008. Absent information about their funding strategy, only vendor contracts are available for fiscal comparisons. The $149,400 Regency Tower contractor proposal is 14% less than the 2008 Playa del Sol vendor contract for $171,000 (with Fischer Electric). Factoring for inflation, the $171,000 PDS price tag in 2008 would cost $187,588 in 2014 (last year), framing the Regency Tower bid cost as almost 26% less. That said, the comparison is also skewed by Playa del Sol’s larger owner pool and differences in size and type between our natural gas generator and their diesel engine.

Galt Ocean Club President Pio Ieraci
Galt Ocean Club
President Pio Ieraci
In 2005, Hurricane Wilma eviscerated the Galt Ocean Club cooling tower (along with the entire roof), strewing sections across our balconies and parking deck. According to Galt Ocean Club President Pio Ieraci, they paid $350,000 for a replacement cooling tower. Since the $350K was a small part of a much larger assessment (that funded the roof replacement and other storm damage repairs), he was unable to identify the exact amount of the incremental contingency specifically assessed for the cooling tower. Even without the Galt Ocean Club contingency costs, the $319,603 Regency Tower levy is 11% less than Galt Ocean Club’s 2005 cooling tower outlay. With inflation, the 2005 $350,000 allocation would cost $423,210 in 2014, technically rendering the Regency Tower assessment 25% less than the Galt Ocean Club burden. Of course, factoring in Galt Ocean Club’s unknown contingency expense would appreciably increase this assessment gap.

Vacation Time – Getting Out of Dodge!

The impact of each project on those in residence was discussed during a project update at the Budget Meeting. While the generator project will only affect a few deeded parking spaces adjacent to the maintenance room, the cooling tower replacement will inconvenience everyone in residence during the project. For the week or so it takes to install the new cooling tower, central air conditioning will be unavailable. If you can be elsewhere during this project, by all means - hit the road. To help soften the discomfort for those of us fettered to in-residence responsibilities, we are currently negotiating a per diem rate for unit owners to directly rent spot coolers (portable A/C units) for their favorite rooms. This should stir memories in those who endured the riser project. Since the rental costs will be paid by each unit owner directly to the vendor, it will have no financial impact on the assessment. Thank you for your attention.


Assessment Summary

Emergency Generator Assessment
 
Type of Expense Costs (Sub)Totals
 
Accepted Bid $149,400  
20% Contingency   $29,880  
Subtotal – Bid Based Expenses   $179,280
Engineering     $8,500  
Extended 5-Year Warranty     $1,750  
Interim Generator Rental     $4,000  
5-Day Firefighter “Fire Watch”     $4,800  
     
Subtotal – Non-Bid Expenses     $19,050
Total Generator Assessment   $198,330
     

Cooling Tower Assessment
 
Type of Expense Costs (Sub)Totals
 
Accepted Bid $218,836  
20% Contingency $43,767  
Subtotal – Bid Based Expenses   $262,603
Engineering   $5,000  
Rooftop Relocation $40,000  
Sanitary Drain Effluent Reroute $12,000  
     
Subtotal – Non-Bid Expenses     $57,000
Total Cooling Tower Assessment   $319,603
     

Total Combined Assessment
 
Project Assessment Cost
 
Emergency Generator $198,330
Cooling Tower $319,603
Total Combined Assessment $517,933
   

Permit costs/municipal costs or fees are not included

Estimated and/or subject to municipal requirements

Reading Online makes me Nauseous!

It's not uncommon. If you slump into a stupor or suffer panic attacks while locked onto your monitor, NOT TO WORRY!! Click Here for an Adobe Acrobat version of the above data - which you can print and read - or wrap fish! If you prefer, you can limit your download to the tabled Assessment Summary by Clicking Here.


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Board President Eileen Bendis
Eileen Bendis
Galt Ocean Mile Neighborhood
Galt Ocean Mile Neighborhood
July 10, 2014 - In her March 20, 2014 Report to members, after calling attention to the endless parade of construction projects along the Galt Mile, President Bendis exhorted “Don’t think we are invincible!” Couched in her cynical admonition of mortality was a wallet alert. While our President puts in the mind-numbing daily oversight required to balance operational needs with resources, budget-busting projects are flagged for Board review. Since the Board will not approve major expenditures without clear and convincing evidence of their necessity, these projects are pulled from the building office and independently investigated.

Three projects that are critical to our quality of life were reviewed during the spring season – the structural integrity of our balconies, the cooling tower that enables every air conditioner in the building and the back-up generator that powers critical systems during an outage. Two were approved by the Board. Since they are funded by special assessment, they will impact our family budgets. The following update will add some perspective to these planned improvements


Balcony Restoration

1998 Regency Tower Balconies with Privacy Walls
1998 Regency Tower Balconies with Privacy Walls
In 1998, the balconies servicing almost a dozen units were so eroded that the balcony doors had to be nailed shut to bar their use. In 1999, the Regency Tower Board planned a concrete restoration to rehabilitate balconies installed 30 years earlier and replace their deteriorating concrete walls with a rust-resistant aluminum railing. After performing a series of inspections and structural tests, the engineer drafted a specific repair plan for each balcony. Since structural repairs would require the removal of any floor coverings, some unit owners complained about losing the decorative tile on their balcony floor. At a meeting convened to address this concern, the Board provided for a conditional “opt out” for these distressed members.

Balcony with Aluminum Railing
Balcony with Aluminum Railing
After performing a non-invasive structural test (sonic test) on the tiled balcony floors of “opt out” applicants, if the engineer assessed the balcony floor as structurally sound, it would be exempted from planned repairs. Since the project also included replacing the crumbling concrete walls with a more resilient aluminum railing, even if the floor was shielded from demolition, any tiles near the balcony’s edge were cut away, enabling the installation of new aluminum posts along the perimeter of the balcony floor. In the following decade, virtually every other Galt Mile association followed our lead, replacing their concrete balcony walls with aluminum, and later aluminum and glass balcony railings.

Exposed rusting rebar
Exposed Rusting Rebar
Fourteen years later, some of our balconies are again exhibiting signs of erosion. In the past two years, we discovered minor spalling (flaking or pitted concrete) on several balconies and exposed rusting rebar (steel reinforcing rods) on others. An association can fulfill its statutory responsibility to maintain the structural integrity of its balconies by repairing them one at a time or performing an all inclusive concrete rehabilitation. Since the former option is inefficient and ridiculously expensive, approaching eight to ten times the cost of a building-wide restoration project, it’s a non-starter.

Nevertheless, since a unilateral balcony restoration would still trigger a sizable assessment, commencing such a project before it was clearly necessary would violate the board’s fiduciary responsibility. Conversely, waiting until chunks of dislodged concrete begin bouncing off the parking deck is not an option. Since inexpensive cracks can quickly evolve into costly structural defects, casual delays can significantly inflate the cost of a member-funded special assessment. To determine the optimum time for a building-wide balcony restoration, the Board would first have to ascertain their average general condition.

Click to SPEC Engineering website Asked to devise a cost-effective methodology for determining their structural integrity, structural engineer John Evans of Swaysland Professional Engineering Corporation (SPEC) suggested testing a random cross-section of the association’s balconies. To err on the side of caution, he narrowed the test sample to east-facing balconies closest to the ocean, given their elevated exposure to halides, PCBs and other corrosive ocean-based pollutants. Shortly after testing the even floors in the eleven stack and the odd floors in the one stack, he submitted his findings to the Board on March 21, 2014.

SPEC Structural Engineer John Evans P.E.
SPEC Engineer
John Evans
He states “To summarize the survey results, there is only minor concrete damage observed.” After reviewing specific findings for individual balconies, the engineer concludes “It would be our recommendation to wait to do repairs either until you are ready to paint the building or have accumulated funds to perform the work.” In addition to yielding certain economies of scale (labor & setup costs), integrating the two projects will eliminate certain line items that are duplicated in their respective “scopes of work” – dropping the cost – and the assessment.

For example, since a concrete restoration always leaves exterior walls heavily scarred, competing project vendors must include mitigation expenses in their sealed bids. Alternatively, a subsequent paint project will correct this damage, enabling concrete vendors to drop this cost from their bid price. Also, waterproofing the newly rehabilitated balcony floors can be less expensively incorporated into a paint project.

Minor Spalling Concrete
Spalling Balcony Floor
The good news is that there is no crushing need to dive into this project. In the five years since our building was last painted, the sole infiltration through the exterior wall was caused by a flooded hurricane shutter track and our engineer affirmed that the general condition of our balconies is good. Until the engineer pulls the trigger, the balconies will be retested on a regular basis.

If discovered early, spalling is a useful indicator. For balconies that demonstrate minor spalling, an inexpensive interim repair would slow or stop the deterioration until the restoration project provides a more permanent resolution (on one balcony, the unit owner continuously overwatered a specific planting area for years, creating a permanent pond underneath, which spalled the concrete floor).


Cooling Tower

Regency Tower Hallway AC-Water Heater Closets
Hallway AC-Water Heater Closets
Regency Tower Rooftop Cooling Tower
Regency Tower Rooftop Cooling Tower
We began closely monitoring the cooling tower when a 2011 reserves study suggested that it was approaching the end of its projected useful (warrantable) life. Recently, a unit owner asked whether the cooling tower was a piece of spa equipment. It isn’t. Our air conditioners function inside “fire-safety sealed” hallway closets that are marginally ventilated by a small louver in the closet door. Technically rated as mechanical rooms (that’s why City of Fort Lauderdale Code Enforcement conducts “stings” and issues “gotcha” violations to unit owners for storing “junk” in their AC closets), as entrapped generated heat accumulates, the AC unit is increasingly forced to work harder to cool our home. If the heat isn't extracted, the unit will ultimately throw in the towel.

Click to SPEC Engineering website The rooftop cooling tower anchors a heat removal system. Excess heat is absorbed by water in the risers that pass through each AC/Water Heater closet en route to the rooftop cooling tower, where it is cooled and returned to collect more heat. Since they would burn out if forced to operate without the cooling tower, our air conditioners are always turned off before the cooling tower is closed down for repairs or maintenance, and turned on again afterwards. In short, every individual AC unit connected to our central air system is operationally dependent on the cooling tower. If the cooling tower goes - so does your air conditioning!

In response to the reserves study, SPEC Engineer John Evans recruited a mechanical engineer who specializes in HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) to evaluate the cooling tower’s condition. On December 21, 2011, they submitted a report summarizing their findings. Following a technical description of the unit’s structure, it states “Our inspection revealed very minor rusting on the framing. Some of the pipe hangers and connection bolts are severely rusted and should be replaced when the tower is replaced. Touch up painting should be applied to all rusted framing members after removing the rust.” Despite its age, the engineers concluded that there was no reason to anticipate a functionality deficit. However, they also recommended that we regularly revisit this issue. Following the most recent inspection, the engineer dropped the other shoe, asserting “It’s time to begin the replacement process.”


Emergency Generator

Click to Cummins Onan website
Regency Tower's Original Onan Emergency Generator
Regency Tower's Original Onan Emergency Generator
In early May, the vendor responsible for maintaining our back-up generator, American Generator Services, reported that the head gasket has terminally deteriorated. While still functional, it would inevitably fail in the near future. After Onan Generator underwent a 6-year acquisition by Cummins, Inc. from 1986 to 1992, it was reorganized as subsidiary Cummins Onan. Since the generator was installed by the original developer in 1969, Cummins Onan had long since stopped making parts to support this model, forcing servicers to rely on various distributor inventories for replacement parts. Not surprisingly, a comprehensive search came up empty - no replacement head gasket is available.

Click to Fischer Electric websiteCalled in to inspect the generator, SPEC engineer John Evens confirmed the company’s assessment and recommended that we begin the replacement process immediately, as permitting issues can substantially delay an installation. Since they installed a replacement generator for Playa del Sol in 2008, Evans also recommended that we contact Fischer Electric to inspect the generator, give us a rough estimate for comprehensive project costs and ascertain if a replacement head gasket can be fashioned in case the one on our generator prematurely gives up the ghost. On May 13, 2014, Chuck Fischer also recommended an immediate replacement, confirming that largely depleted replacement part inventories will cripple efforts to maintain the generator. Asked if a replacement head gasket could be fashioned, when Fischer called back the next day, he said that a mechanic he uses told him that he might be able to fashion a temporary head gasket if necessary.

Playa del Sol
Playa del Sol
On May 20, Fischer sent us a copy of the Playa del Sol bid documentation, and recommended that we budget an inflation premium of 20% - 25% above the $170,000 that it cost Playa del Sol for their project (which comes to roughly $213,000) – plus engineering costs. He said that it could take up to six months to complete a replacement project (he mentioned one that took a year), depending on product availability and a complex permitting process.

A few days later, Evans reported finding a company in South Carolina that would manufacture a replacement head gasket. However, since they required an unavailable “template” for duplication, he characterized this as a dead end. Observing that a system failure is most likely to occur during an actual emergency, when the generator must carry a full load for an extended period; and that building a replacement head gasket could take days - or weeks during a prolonged power outage - he strongly advised against relying on this option.

Click to American Generator Services website Commenting on Fischer’s budget recommendation, Evans conjectured that since our generator drives a smaller fire pump than the one used in Playa del Sol, we need only budget roughly $170,000 instead of $213,000, plus $10,000 in engineering costs. To emphasize the importance of acting expeditiously, on June 13, Jim Oberlander from maintenance vendor American Generator Services warned that if the generator fails, Regency Tower will have to “roll in a portable generator, and that will get very costly.” He added that replacing the generator could take six months.

In addition to critical fire safety systems, the backup generator powers hallway lighting and an elevator. A few years ago, we added the garage door, given the importance of enabling unit owners who so choose to depart Regency Tower if the power fails. If the backup generator fails during such an emergency, vehicles parked in the garage will become useless and elderly residents unable to navigate the stairs could be stranded on the upper floors - posing a threat to their safety - and possibly their lives. Since this is unacceptable, the Board agreed to approve its replacement ASAP.


Going Forward...

With minor variations, after each project is configured and packaged by the appropriate Mechanical, Structural and/or Electrical Engineer, reputable contractors will be invited to submit sealed bids for the job. Based on the Engineer’s input, an “apples to apples” comparison of the submitted bids and a review of each competing vendor’s “track record,” the Board will select the winning bidder.

Additional info will be made available as the planned replacement projects for the generator and cooling tower go forward. As future balcony tests are performed and evaluated, those results will also be posted. Projects for which reserves haven't been established – or are insufficiently (partially) funded – are subject to special assessment. Since these unavoidable expenses affect our family budgets, the Board will keep you informed about their impending implementation. Thank you for your attention to these issues, given their significant impact on our continued safety and quality of life!


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Roofless Ocean Manor after Hurricane Wilma
Roofless Ocean Manor after Hurricane Wilma
2001 Regency Tower Roof Installation
2001 Regency Tower Roof Installation
August 26, 2013 - In 2001, on discovering defects in the roof installed two years earlier, we invoked our warranty rights to have manufacturer Allied Signal-Honeywell address an inordinate number of membrane blisters. Following six months of negotiations, the manufacturer agreed to replace the roof and retained
Campany Roofing to install an upgraded variation of Honeywell’s Millennium Roofing System at no cost to the association. When the 2004 and 2005 serial hurricanes stripped the roofs off many Galt Mile associations – including next door neighbors Playa del Mar and Galt Ocean Club – we sustained negligible roof damage, as several removable vent turbines were blown into the Atlantic.

Roofs on Rooftop Maintenance Room and Stairwell
Rooftop Maintenance Room
and Stairwell Roofs
Click to Honeywell Roof Systems website The one and a half inches of insulation that lines our concrete roof deck cuts our electric bills in half. A 3/4 inch ply of Perlite and a 3/4 inch ply of wood fiberboard is staggered, fused and set in asphalt. These insulation layers are covered by a base sheet in asphalt. Above this is a layer of “Millennium smooth” and replacing the loose gravel that covers most roofs is a cap sheet called Millennium GMC (Granular Membrane Cap Sheet). The system protects four roofs in Regency Tower; the main roof, the roof covering our porte-cochère front entrance, the roof over the rooftop stairwell and the roof above the 21st floor maintenance room that houses the governors and computers which control our elevators.

Fish Mouth Crack
Fish Mouth Crack
Roof above Porte-Cochère Front Entrance
Porte-Cochère Roof
Although the roof is warrantied against manufacturer defects for 20 years, the warranty is contingent on strict adherence to a maintenance schedule defined by the manufacturer. Every year, air blisters must be vented and water blisters drained before being torched and resealed. “Fishmouth” holes and punctures must be patched; scrapes and chemical burns must be repaired. Since the number of these vulnerabilities increases annually as the roof ages, so does the cost of yearly maintenance. Additionally, elements installed to protect the roof and extend its useful life are not covered by a warranty.

Engineer Stan Swaysland
Engineer Stan Swaysland
Water Blister
Water Blister
Earlier this year, the roof maintenance company contracted by our former manager submitted an annual repair proposal for $17,299. Suspicious omissions in their maintenance plan prompted us to have the roof inspected by an engineering specialist. After examining the roof, SPEC engineer Stan Swaysland reported potential structural failures that if not addressed, could result in debonding and infiltration. Although they planned to repair blisters on the field membrane, the maintenance company ignored advanced deterioration in upper layers of the roof over the stairwell, open laps in the base flashing that seals the roof perimeter and they never even looked at the roof on the porte-cochère.

Click to SPEC Engineering website Click to SPEC Engineering website On Swaysland’s recommendation, we contacted Honeywell to confirm the terms of our warranty. We also contacted original contractor Campany Roofing to perform an independent assessment, and apply line item pricing to prospective repairs. While successfully working together on our roof, Campany earned substantial credibility with Honeywell. Concerned about whether neglect by the roof maintenance vendor might have compromised our warranty, we asked Campany to solicit a clear set of compliance standards from Honeywell. After running interference on our behalf, Campany issued a proposal that addressed all of the threats listed in Swaysland’s report and satisfied Honeywell’s warranty prerequisites.

Membrane Capped by Copper Flashing
Membrane Capped
by Copper Flashing
To minimize vulnerability of a roofing system, layered membrane sections are staggered to overlap otherwise unprotected seams. To avoid an exposed seam anywhere along the perimeter wall, layers of membrane continue several inches up the wall and are capped by copper flashing and heavily caulked. Wherever that flashing deteriorates, the caulking cracks, allowing water that drips down the inner perimeter wall to penetrate the exposed layers of membrane. As the protective flashing oxidizes or otherwise erodes, the number of open laps that must be repaired increases annually. After more than a decade of oceanfront exposure and damage from swing stages repeatedly suspended from the perimeter wall, certain sections of the copper flashing have sustained so much abuse that replacing them would be less costly than applying temporary patches that degrade over a year. Since the flashing is required by Honeywell to protect its system, failing to do so would void the warranty.

Damage from Swing Stages
Damage from Swing Stages
Swing Stage
Swing Stage
Should the roof over the stairwell fail, the resulting infiltration could undermine the integrity of the supporting structure. If neglected, not only would the roof have to be replaced, but elements of the underlying structure as well. After a cursory inspection, Honeywell would accurately blame the failure on improper maintenance and again – void the warranty.

Damage in the Corners
Damage in the Corners
In short, performing only the bare-bones repairs prescribed by our maintenance vendor risks multiple infiltrations along the entire roof perimeter (especially in the corners), failure of the roof over the stairwell, deepening damage to other “hot spots” identified by our engineer and the loss of our warranty. This is not an acceptable option.

Based on vendor pricing received to date, for an additional $15,000 to $18,000, we can insure that our eleven-year old roof remains in optimum condition. In addition to effecting field repairs on all four roofs, we can replace damaged sections of copper flashing, recaulk sections that remain intact and permanently fix the stairwell roof. Upon completing vendor negotiations that are currently underway, the final cost of repairs approved by Honeywell – as well as a repair timetable – will be announced.

Going forward, although annual blistering must still be monitored and controlled, the reduced number of open laps in the base flashing will significantly lower maintenance costs over the next ten years. Also, we will no longer have to worry about the stairwell roof collapsing or continued eligibility for warranty protection. I agree with our engineer. Given the substantial structural and financial consequences of neglecting these problems, this intervention is a no-brainer. Thank you for your kind attention.


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& Regency Tower

Equipment Upgrade Event

April 7, 2013 - On Thursday, March 21, 2013, Comcast kicked off a Regency Tower equipment upgrade event at 3 PM in the Rendezvous Room. Prior to the expiration of Regency Tower’s bulk service contract with Comcast, association officials negotiated a new agreement with the Cable giant. The new pact provides Regency Tower members with additional services at no additional cost.

Comcast Digital Transport Adapter (DTA)
FRONT - Comcast Digital Transport Adapter (DTA) - REAR
Under the previous Comcast contract, unit owners were entitled to a
basic cable channel lineup, a house channel, 2 HBO channels and up to three Digital Transport Adapters (DTAs) – small cable boxes that decipher the Comcast signal carrying only basic channels. Any additional equipment or services were charged by Comcast directly to the unit owner.

Responding to changes in the 2005 cable law, premium content providers (like HBO) refused to allow Comcast to transmit their signal to televisions connected to cable boxes that don’t feature parental controls - like the Digital Adaptors (DTAs) affixed to many televisions in Regency Tower.

Digital Set-Top Box
Digital Set-Top Box (Black or Silver)
To offset the loss of the two HBO channels on Regency Tower televisions attached to DTAs, we negotiated an agreement that provides each unit owner with an upgraded Digital Starter plan that offers an expanded channel lineup, all 8 HBO channels, the house channel, hundreds of free movies, and the full range of ON Demand services - without a cost increase. However, to receive these premium services, each Regency Tower unit owner would need at least one interactive digital set-top box.

About half of Comcast’s Regency Tower customers had previously purchased additional television services (High Definition television, DVR recording capability, an expanded digital channel lineup, etc.) that automatically provided them with a digital set-top box. Others rent an additional digital set-top box to access these services on their other televisions or simply take advantage of its expanded digital capabilities.

Click to Comcast Xfinity website Since these Regency Tower unit owners were already capable of accessing the new features made available in the contract, their participation in the event was not required. Instead, owners who rent a digital set-top box or received one when they purchased the Digital Starter package would have their accounts adjusted, thereby removing the accompanying charges from future monthly Comcast statements. Of course, they would still be responsible for any additional services or equipment not included in the new Regency Tower contract.

Ordinarily, Comcast charges $30 for visiting a unit to install upgraded equipment – as well as a $15 activation fee. They agreed to waive those costs for any installations performed during the March 21, 2013 event organized for that purpose.

Click to Comcast Xfinity website Two days before the event, Comcast sent us a “client list” indicating who among their Regency Tower customers needed equipment upgrades. They also sent scores of cardboard “door-hangers” to help inform those owners how they would benefit from attending the event. Earlier, Comcast sent mailings to every Regency Tower customer to explain the new services and the prospective necessity to upgrade their equipment. Additionally, Notices announcing the March 21 event and detailing its objectives were distributed by the association and placed on the mail room bulletin board, the garage elevator lobby bulletin board, the free-standing notice board near the lobby elevators and posted on the association website.

Arriving two hours before the event, Comcast administrative personnel and cable technicians built a wireless local network connecting the Rendezvous Room to the Comcast customer database as board members and employees reconfigured the room to accommodate participating residents. Beginning at 3 PM, entering owners would register at one of three open chairs across from a Comcast customer service specialist. Within 30 seconds, owners were either informed that they already had the required equipment (and that their accounts would be adjusted) or asked to go to their units and await a technician who would install a digital set-top box on the television of their choice.

Board President Eileen Bendis
Eileen Bendis
Of the three dozen chairs prepared for owners, rarely were more than three or four occupied at any time throughout the event. In addition to upgrading equipment in scores of units, the Comcast personnel answered hundreds of questions about individual accounts, new services, technical concerns and channel lineups. True to their promise, they remained until every participant was upgraded, including dozens of out-of-residence owners and/or their tenants, finally leaving at 10 PM.

Cable Committee member Eric Berkowitz
Eric Berkowitz
Unfortunately, 10 owners neither responded to nor attended the event. Despite their absence, Regency Tower officials requested that they be afforded one final opportunity to install the equipment at no cost. A cooperative Comcast official scheduled the additional installations 9 days later. On March 30th, President Eileen Bendis and Vice President Eric Berkowitz accompanied four different technicians to nine of the ten “no show” units. A final installation was scheduled for April 3, enabling every Regency Tower resident to access the new service upgrades.

Despite being told to contact Comcast when faced with a television problem, in the subsequent weeks, almost a dozen perplexed unit owners called the office and/or board members with inquiries and/or complaints about the new equipment. A half dozen residents who couldn’t find HBO were informed that all 8 HBO channels were now available on channels 301 through 311 (along with a Spanish language HBO channel on channel 312). Problems also disappeared when confused owners were shown how to use their unfamiliar new remote controls. Of the four remaining issues that couldn’t be addressed with friendly advice, one enterprising owner resolved his problem by picking up a longer cable from Comcast, while three others called Comcast and scheduled a service appointment.

Comcast Account Executive Miriam Decker
Account Executive
Miriam Decker
In comparison with the Comcast “catch as catch can” DTA installation event on April 20, 2011, this was a vast improvement. The Comcast personnel managing the event were better organized and far more knowledgeable about technical and billing issues. Commercial development specialists Catherine Vargas and Andres George assisted residents with a wide range of issues, including account snafus, packaging services and using the new equipment. Account executive Miriam Decker assured residents that Comcast is working hard to reverse its abysmal customer service reputation.

Believing that this corporate glutton has experienced some ethical catharsis would be patently naïve. However, for the first time in decades, Comcast is also cooperating with the neighborhood association, having finally acknowledged that while many problems are specific to the cable infrastructure within a unit or an individual building, others that afflict the entire neighborhood will be more effectively addressed by community collaboration.

To that end, on April 1, 2013, Comcast officials met with the Galt Mile Presidents Council. Following a presentation and a Q & A, they agreed to participate in a neighborhood forum to discuss servicing issues, community-wide bulk pricing, discounted additional services and improved communication. Since they are also the only game in town for bulk service television customers on Galt Ocean Drive, we have nothing to lose by collectively tackling these issues. As always, whether or not this new understanding bears fruit will come out in the wash.

Please Note: Many residents have expressed confusion about Xfinity, asking why they are receiving information about the services offered by this “mysterious” company. Xfinity is a “high-tech” brand name conceived by Comcast's Marketing Division to help sell their products and services, similar to AT&T branding their bundled services as “Uverse”. Xfinity and Uverse are not new companies, but competitive advertizing gizmos dreamed up by Comcast and AT&T. In short - Xfinity is Comcast!


Links to Helpful Info

  • General Info

    • Click to Comcast Remote Controls Click here for info about Digital Adaptors (DTAs)

    • Click here for info about Digital Set-Top Boxes (Digital Converters)

    • Click here for Differences between Digital Adaptors and Digital Set-Top Boxes

    • Click here for info about Digital Starter

    • Click here for Cable Box User Manuals and Installation Guides

    • Click here for info about Remote Controls

    • Click here for Digital Adaptor (DTA) Setup Guide

    • Click here for how to Program or Use your DTA Remote

    • Click here for how to Program or Use your Digital Set-Top Box Remote

  • Regency Tower Contract Package Info


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VS. Cable Committee

Click to List of Satellite Television Providers Click to Comcast website November 2, 2012 - Prior to opening renewal negotiations with Comcast (and one year after the U.S. Department of Justice and the FCC approved Comcast acquiring 51% of NBCUniversal from General Electric), the Regency Tower Cable Committee (Eric Berkowitz, Robert Nagle and Howard Hirschman) encountered a familiar obstacle. They learned that alternative bulk television service providers DirecTV and Dish Network were still using a contractual format that requires executing an additional (second) agreement with one of several broadcaster-authorized local vendors to perform maintenance services. These small “Information Technology” companies surreptitiously cycle in and out of business, often resurfacing as some new enterprise that carries no liability for agreements executed under their previous incarnation. Given the decidedly unstable nature of this business model, the Committee rejected this option.

Click to AT&T Uverse website
Coral Ridge Towers
Coral Ridge Towers
We also looked into AT&T’s U-verse brand, which claims to offer comparable services at competitive prices. Unfortunately, while U-verse currently provides internet services to Galt Mile consumers, they are not yet equipped to offer bulk television services. When told that we were aware of an AT&T contract with Coral Ridge Towers for bulk television services, a representative from their commercial development division confided that AT&T expansion plans have less to do with proximity than the costs of mitigating structural and political obstacles. Since the representative was unable to confirm when their service would be available at our location, AT&T’s U-verse is currently not an option.

Click to 'Digital Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005' website During preliminary discussions with Comcast in April, 2012, Account Executive Miriam Decker described a critical change in Comcast’s bulk television services. In the two years after the Digital Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 forced broadcasters to transition from analog to digital transmissions on June 12, 2009, cable providers like Comcast distributed and installed no-frills Digital Transport Adapters (DTAs), small cable boxes that enable customers to receive the digital signals carrying basic cable content. Since every analog channel reclaimed by federal law unshackled enough bandwidth for 3 new High Definition digital channels, or 15 new standard digital channels, the telecommunications law squeezed out enough virgin wavelength for federal bureaucrats to hold a multi-$billion bandwidth auction.

Comcast Digital Transport Adapter (DTA)
FRONT - Comcast Digital Transport Adapter (DTA) - REAR
Although the public legally owns the airwaves, elected officials who appointed themselves to manage “our asset” traded bandwidth for campaign contributions, no-show jobs for otherwise unemployable friends and relatives or condos in Palm Beach or Lake Tahoe. Scammed by broadcasters engaged in collusive bidding, the auction only brought in $19.592 billion for more than $50 billion in bandwidth. Of that, only $7.3 billion was transferred to the general fund of the Treasury (i.e. to the public). While the adapters (DTAs) were ostensibly designed to interpret basic digital signals, each cable or satellite company further tweaked its DTAs to only decipher their unique proprietary signal. After digitally “customizing” their DTAs, each company forced its customers to install them on any television not already affixed to one of its more expensive interactive digital cable boxes.

Digital Set-Top Box
Digital Set-Top Box (Black or Silver)
Since the technologically simplistic devices were built for the sole purpose of carrying signal for basic cable channels, transmissions for premium services and/or an in-house channel could only be accessed by one of several more advanced digital set–top boxes or by inserting specialized adapters into the local system’s control panel. These “inserts” currently enable bulk service customers – like us – to watch HBO, Showtime, Starz, The Movie Channel, Cinemax, our in-house channel and other premium offerings on televisions fitted with DTAs. This is coming to an end.

Digital Adapters (DTA) will no longer carry Premium Channels
Comcast Cuts Premium Channels from DTAs
The same legislation that enabled the federal government to dole out our bandwidth “on the cheap” also mandated “enhancements” to broadcasting consistency and consumer content control. Since the rudimentary DTAs are not equipped with programmable parental controls, premium content providers (i.e. HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, Starz, The Movie Channel, etc.) have prohibited Comcast from transmitting their signal to televisions fitted to DTAs. As a result, whenever a Comcast bulk services contract comes up for renewal, the “inserts” providing certain premium services to the DTAs must be removed from the main panel. While the inserts that provide access to in-house channels will remain intact as well as the full array of basic cable channels, bulk service customers that contract for limited premium services, such as Regency Tower’s two HBO channels, will no longer be able to receive them on televisions connected to DTAs. The only exceptions to this policy are contracts that are renewed by exercising an automatic renewal clause, since they legally preclude alteration by either party.

As compensation, instead of a basic cable plan accessed by up to 3 free DTAs, Comcast agreed to provide Regency Tower members with up to 2 DTAs and a Digital Starter plan accessed by a digital set-top box. To offset the loss of two HBO channels on a DTA-affixed set, a television connected by a digital set-top box will receive all 8 HBO channels; hundreds of free movies, a substantially expanded Digital Starter channel lineup and the full complement of interactive On Demand services. Regency Tower owners who currently pay for Digital Starter or rent a digital set-top box to access premium services will no longer have to pay the monthly rental charge for one of these devices. However, the monthly costs for unit owners who subscribe to additional premium services or rent additional boxes will be unaffected by this agreement. Conversely, owners who have heretofore chosen to forgo paying for the additional features delivered by a digital set-top box will receive them at no additional cost.

Click to Comcast Xfinity website Since our last negotiation with Comcast (also branded as Xfinity to bury a burdensome nationwide reputation for historically pathetic customer service), we learned that the broadcaster began offering associations financial incentives for initiating or renewing a bulk services contract. While investigating these “signing bonuses,” we learned that several cable consulting companies carved out a niche market for themselves by representing associations in their negotiations with cable and satellite providers for these incentives. A majority of the agreements they negotiated for client associations featured checks written by the broadcaster to the associations for signing new or renewed agreements. For their services, the consultants would be paid an amount based on the financial benefits exacted from the provider.

Converged Services, Inc. (CSI) CEO Jim Adams
CSI CEO Jim Adams
Click to Converged Services, Inc. (CSI) website Ten months ago, Regency Tower Board members met with representatives from Converged Services, Inc. (CSI), one of the largest cable consulting companies in the country. Company CEO Jim Adams explained that their intimate knowledge of Comcast’s business model and those of other cable and satellite companies provided them with unique negotiating advantages. They offered to negotiate on our behalf in exchange for one third of whatever financial considerations they elicited from Comcast.

Cable Committee member Bob Nagle
Committee member
Bob Nagle
In meeting with several associations that contracted these “consulting” services, for each one that seemed satisfied, there was another that regretted not negotiating directly with Comcast. In a subsequent June 2012 meeting with Maggie Hutter, Comcast’s Broward County Manager of Commercial Development, and account executive Decker, Cable Committee members were assured that we would be accorded equal standing by negotiating for ourselves. Hutter pointed out that these signing incentives were applicable to long-term contracts, generally for 10 years.

Cable Committee Chair Howard Hirschman
Committee member
Howard Hirschman
The Cable Committee unanimously agreed that unit owners would realize a greater benefit if Comcast would allow us to apply these incentives towards lowering their rates instead of snagging an “up front” payment to the association. We also agreed that committing to a ten-year contract would deprive the association of benefitting from market competition and fast-changing technology. After negotiating a reasonable financial “incentive” ($61,547.12), Hutter and Decker refused to apply the entire amount against the cost of the contract. After some discussion, they eventually allowed us to use the bulk of this consideration to abate contract rates. Of the $61,547.12 that Comcast agreed to pay to the association for signing a new agreement, a maximum of $52,119.12 would be distributed equally among unit owner accounts during the first two years of the contract. The cash balance of $9,338 would be paid by check to the association.

Cable Committee member Eric Berkowitz
Board VP
Eric Berkowitz
When the committee framed the 10-year term as a deal breaker, Comcast relented. Lowering their “10-year term” incentive requirement to seven years allowed the association to receive the same financial considerations for a shorter 7 year contract. In the next few weeks, the committee also decided against agreeing to a 7-year pact. Comcast finally conceded to a 5-year contract if we would relinquish our “signing bonus”. During a subsequent series of heated telephone conferences, they agreed to fully incentivize the abbreviated 5-year term, adding back the “up front” cash.

Board President Eileen Bendis
Board President
Eileen Bendis
A few months later, the committee took another run at Comcast. With Bob Nagle tied up with family business, Board President Eileen Bendis joined Hirschman and Berkowitz in this final round of negotiations. After pricing several bulk service alternatives with Hutter and Decker, the committee presented the Board with two new options. Board members spent the next few weeks deciding between a more lavish package with a larger price tag (for an additional cable box) and the previously negotiated low-cost package sweetened by an increased signing incentive.

Comcast’s Broward County Manager of Commercial Development Maggie Hutter
Comcast Manager
Maggie Hutter
Known as an access fee or right-of-entry (ROE) fee, the cash disbursement is compensation for access rights provided to Comcast by the association. While the FCC prohibits cable companies from requiring exclusive ROE agreements with multi-dwelling unit (MDU) properties (Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, MB Docket No. 07-51 (rel. Nov. 13, 2007, the “Exclusivity Order”)), associations can negotiate de facto agreements that recognize the value of access to their properties. Regency Tower provides Comcast with space, security and power for its equipment in our meter room, stack boxes on our roof and cable wiring on association property. We provide their technicians with ROE to service this equipment. It also allows Comcast to explain and implement mass onsite service upgrades. To comply with the FCC Exclusivity Order yet still reflect contract value, fees paid (to the association) to access wiring or equipment and bypass marketing obstacles can be based on the anticipated monthly or quarterly revenue paid by the association or the number of units covered by the agreement (prompting its informal designation as a “door fee”).

Comcast calculated the $9338 payment included in their second proposal by applying a per unit fee of $46 to Regency Tower’s 203 units. Both options raised at the final meeting involved a change to that access fee. Comcast insisted that the association help subsidize the more expensive enhanced package by hiking the cost to every unit owner and lowering the incentive payment to $7308. If we accepted the package outlined at the previous session, Comcast would increase the access fee multiplier to $60 per unit, or $12,180. Board members agreed that their primary responsibility was to keep the cost as low as possible, and allow unit owners who want to supplement the basic package to pay for any specific enhancements they may select. By a unanimous vote, the Board opted for the less expensive package.

Two factors primarily affect the affordability of any utility service, the current charges for the service and the rate at which those charges can be increased. In the existing contract, basic costs escalate annually by 6%. In the proposed contract, the committee negotiated a decrease in the annual escalator to 5%.

Comparative Savings Summary
Comparative Savings Summary
Since the annual contract costs are all based on the prior year’s rates, lowering the rate in any given year will proportionally lower the charges in every subsequent year of the contract. The bulk of our financial consideration was not simply applied against future charges, but to reduce those rates. As such, the rate we are currently paying will be frozen and applied to the first two years of the contract. The $32.21 monthly charge (excluding taxes and fees) currently billed to each unit owner (totaling $6538.63/month paid to Comcast by the association) for the cable assessment will remain unchanged until the third year of the contract, at which point the annual 5% escalator will be applied.

The “Comparative Savings Summary” depicted in the adjacent table demonstrates the annual savings derived of freezing the current rate and extending it through the first two years of a five-year Comcast contract while reducing the annual escalator from 6% to 5% (the proposed annual 5% escalator will not be applied until the third year of the contract). Subtracting the monthly amount payable each year WITH the 2-year rate freeze and reduced escalator (proposed) from the monthly amount payable WITHOUT the 2-year freeze and the reduced escalator (current) yields the monthly savings throughout that year. The annualized savings is calculated by multiplying the monthly savings by 12. Taxes and fees are excluded.

Total Savings Summary
Total Savings Summary
There were discussions about whether the association benefitted from the decision to negotiate directly with Comcast. In the adjacent table, the Association’s accrued annual savings are subtotaled and added to an upfront cash payment of $12,180 ($60/unit), yielding a gross savings of $64,299.12. CSI (and other cable consulting companies) were willing to negotiate with Comcast on behalf of Regency Tower in consideration for one third of the negotiated savings. During their presentation to the board, CSI disclosed information about a contract they negotiated on behalf of another Galt Mile association of comparable size and for a similar package of services. Having solicited a $24,000 payment by Comcast to the association to be paid when the contract was executed, after CSI subtracted their $8000 fee, the association netted $16,000. To compare the financial results of negotiating the contract in-house versus vesting CSI with that responsibility, we must calculate the amount that CSI would have to elicit from Comcast to yield $64,299.12 after extracting one third of the negotiated savings. As such: $64,299.12 ÷ .6666666 = $96,448.68. In short, this package is equivalent to a CSI negotiated pact that included a check for $96,448.68.

After having received a pre-vetted contract reflecting the negotiated terms in mid-October, it was forwarded to association attorney Michael Bender’s office, where associate Andrew Black worked with Decker, Hutter and Comcast attorneys to hammer out a final product.

In summary, the 5-year basic package features cable boxes for 3 televisions in each unit, including a minimum of 2 DTAs and one digital set-top box. The association will be given 5 complimentary video outlets (2 in the Gym, 1 in the Game Room and 2 in the Office, 2 complimentary internet outlets (Office, Receiving Room) and 1 in-house channel. Every unit owner will receive On Demand Services (hundreds of free movies, television series, specials, etc.), 100-station DTA channel lineup, 120-station Digital Starter channel lineup, 8 HBO channels and HBO On Demand (scores of high-end movies).



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South on Galt Ocean Mile in 1967
South on Galt Ocean Drive & A1A in 1967
Demolishing Old Garage Fan
Disassembling Old Garage Fan
August 16, 2012 - In 1969, a cash-hungry development company sought to quickly turn 3 beachfront properties into liquid assets. Having committed enormous resources to absorb developer
Coral Ridge Properties, whose assets included land along the Galt Mile beach, Westinghouse craved a cash infusion. Hoping to quickly exploit a hot condo market, the company decided to build three new condominiums without paying three Architects. Using a cookie-cutter set of plans drafted by Architect Richard C. Reilly for Coral Ridge Properties, Westinghouse applied for permits to build The Regency Tower, Regency South and The Ocean Riviera. While minor design changes implemented during the building phase distinguish the 3 Galt Mile sisters, they hang on nearly identical structural skeletons, their kitchens were fitted with the same Westinghouse appliances and air was circulated through each sub-surface garage by the same monster fan.

Click to Twin City Fan website TCTA Tubeaxial Fan 42 years later, the fan that pulled air through the Regency Tower garage since 1969 gave up the ghost. Following an in-depth investigation of replacement alternatives, the Board voted to replace the rusting hulk in the southeast corner of the garage with the TCTA “Tubeaxial Fan” manufactured by Twin City Fan & Blower. A cast aluminum alloy wheel that turns 60-inch fan blades sits in a one-piece heavy gauge hot-rolled steel housing. Installed by bid-winner Custom Air Designs under the supervision of Structural Engineer John Evans from Swaysland Professional Engineering Consultants (SPEC), the new monster will manage our below grade ventilation for the next 40 years.

Custom Air Designs Proprietor Sam Block
HVAC Guru Sam Block
Click to Custom Air Designs website A month after an order was placed for the fan; Twin City shipped the manufactured-to-order device to Custom Air Designs in Pompano Beach in early August. Proprietor Sam Block supervised the construction of a custom made stand (to permanently suspend the fan over the garage floor), a plenum and the connective elements required for a seamless installation. During the last two weeks in July, the Custom Air crew demolished and dumped the old fan before Maintenance Chief Tom Downey and new maintenance staffer Nelson Calvo cleaned and prepped the installation site.

Fan Unloaded in Lower Driveway
Fan Unloaded in Lower Driveway
At an August 10, 2012 project meeting, Block described the actual installation process planned for the following week. The one-ton fan and the heavy duty stand would be lifted by crane and delivered to Regency Tower. Using a specialized dolly, the fan would be manually rolled to the installation site in the southeast corner of the garage. The pre-constructed stand and prefabricated attachments would follow suit.

Fan Rolled into Garage
Fan Rolled into Garage
On Monday, August 13th, the key elements were transported to the install site by 10 AM. Block’s crew began slapping the precision pieces together as if they were Lego blocks. A custom tailored plenum was inserted into a vent hole in the garage ceiling that aligns with the above patio deck vent housing. A prefabricated isolation-vibration collar was attached to the lower part of the plenum. After cutting a 5-foot diameter hole into an aluminum end cap, it was affixed to the top of the fan. The fan assembly was then manually rolled under the plenum, where the end cap was also attached to the isolation-vibration collar. Once connected to a dedicated electrical transformer, Block ran some tests on the new fan. While operating the 44,000 CFM monster, he checked fan rotation and recorded the amperage draw. After verifying the fan’s performance stats, the crew fitted rubber pads to the stand’s feet before bolting them to the garage floor. By 11 AM, the installation was finished.

Click to SPEC website
Moved Along South Garage Towards Southeast Corner
Maneuvering Fan Towards Southeast Corner
At 2:30 PM, Board President Eileen Bendis, Vice President Eric Berkowitz and Manager Dwight Lyons accompanied Engineer John Evans as he inspected the new fan. After closely scrutinizing the newly installed assembly in the garage, he ascended to the patio deck to check the outlet site. Standing adjacent to the vent housing, the new fan was observably more effective, although slightly less noisy, than its predecessor. By 3:00 PM, Evans gave the install a clean bill of health and recommended that the contractor schedule the required City inspection.

Block's Crew Slides Fan into Place
Block's Crew Slides Fan into Place
Shortly after 11 AM on Wednesday, August 15, 2012, Mechanical Inspector Tony Sadolf from Fort Lauderdale’s Building Services put the fan through its paces. By 11:30, the installation was approved by Sadolf, closing out the active permit. Upon dropping off the association copy of his inspection report in the office, Sadolf remarked “That’s a very clean installation; you’re good to go.” On departing, when Sadolf mentioned having just violated illegal construction by unit owners in a neighboring building, we assured him that rigorous enforcement of ARC regulations shields Regency Tower members from similar violations.

Honeywell Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Nitrous Oxide detector
Honeywell CO Sensor
Early in the review process, we considered attaching the fan to roughly a dozen Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors prospectively installed throughout the garage. The fan would automatically be turned on and off in response to the changing gas levels. The savings in electricity would be substantial. Unfortunately, code compliance officials in Fort Lauderdale stubbornly refused to grant a variance to the existing code requirement that the fan blast away at all times, even when no gas was detected.

Intel Co-Founder Gordon E. Moore
Intel Co-Founder Gordon E. Moore
Since local building codes tend to lapse behind advancing technology by 5 to 8 years, we will closely monitor the evolution of this option. When permitted, we will review the estimated costs of purchasing a variable frequency drive, 10 to 12 CO sensors, hundreds of feet of connective wiring, a control panel and the attendant labor costs. If the projected savings in electricity offsets the expense within roughly 4 years, the detection system will be installed.

Moore’s Law (named for legendary Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore) states that a technological component shrinks to one half its current size every eighteen to twenty four months (it actually states that the number of transistors that fit on a chip – an integrated circuit – will double approximately every two years – same difference). When this occurs, the cost of the previous generation’s components drops precipitously. At some point, the detection system will pass fiscal muster and become a no-brainer. As such, the question is not “if” we will install a control system, but “when.”


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The Soggy Saga of Regency Tower

Pool Reopened in Record Time
 

Regency Tower Pool Rehab
Regency Tower Pool Closed & Reopened!
July 27, 2012 - Since mid-2011, water has become a major player in many of our home’s construction dilemmas. Amid the hot and humid doldrums of late July, another chapter in this this soggy saga temporarily washed out access to our swimming pool. Fortunately, a team effort by the administration, maintenance staffers and a cooperative vendor quashed this quandary before most of us even knew of its existence. Our weekend pool enthusiasts didn’t miss a beat.

Rooftop Cooling Tower
Rooftop Cooling Tower Passes Muster
A series of multi-story floods that tore through Regency Tower last year served as a wake-up call. With many of the association’s aging plumbing and drainage components approaching the end of their useful lives, aggressively managing this deterioration became an administration priority.
Flood Buster in Your AC Closet - Don't Touch!
Flood Buster
To help soften the consequences of expiring operational infrastructure, we asked our structural engineer to inspect critical plumbing, drainage and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) elements and help devise a plan to either avoid or mitigate the effects of flooding.

While the engineer mechanically (and financially) reprieved the rooftop cooling tower for another year and the building’s main drainage elements in the garage and lower driveway are already scheduled to undergo rehabilitative maintenance by Jaffer Wells this summer, the board also approved the installation of inexpensive flood monitoring devices at the base of every unit’s A/C & water heater closet, where many of our most recent floods began. The high-pitched alert will help prevent otherwise undetectable leaks from inundating the entire stack below – before spreading to adjacent units (...if you hear this, call security – DO NOT TOUCH!).

Jaffer Cleans System
Jaffer Cleans System
Click to Jaffer Well Drilling website To effectively prevent water from collecting in the garage, in addition to purging the association’s lower driveway gravity well, trench drain and catch basins, 80% of the main drainage line under the north parking deck will be replaced. When all the association decks were waterproofed and resurfaced in 2003, drainage lines spanning the length of the garage beneath newly installed floor drains along the north and south parking decks were severely eroded. Since special assessments levied for the Deck Project were insufficient to additionally fund drainage upgrades, we traded off our general contractor’s (SPS – Structural Preservation Systems) contractual responsibility to remove a layer of polyurethane coated Chattahoochee from the pool deck in return for pouring a new concrete floor where the billiard room was later built and a new 160-foot cast iron drainage line across the south side of the garage (which was in much worse shape than its northern counterpart).

North Garage Drain Line
North Garage Drain Line
The drainage lines on both sides of the garage penetrate its eastern wall, ultimately feeding our unwanted effluent into the catch basins at the base of the north and south parking ramps. Although inexpensive temporary patches to the northern drainage line in 2003 and replacement of irreparable sections since then extended its lifespan by almost a decade, its rapidly accelerating deterioration over the past year is evidenced by the rusty water that leaks onto vehicles parked below newly discovered cracks in the pipe. Instead of playing construction Whac-A-Mole with a dozen defective small spans of pipe as they succumb to age, our plan to unilaterally replace whatever remains of the original 1969 drainage line with new PVC or cast iron conduit is structurally preferable and far less expensive. Segue to our most recent run-in with our watery nemesis.

Water from Main Drain is Dumped in Ground
Knox Tech in Trench by H2O Fountain
Stress Crack in Return Line
Stress Crack in Return Line
Since the City’s skewed billing formula for water usage (and sewerage) unfairly discriminates against homeowners in condo and cooperative associations as opposed to those living in single family homes, Manager Dwight Lyons and Treasurer Cathie Lenz closely monitor our monthly water bills. When Lyons received the June and July City invoices, he noticed that they didn’t reflect an expected seasonal drop in utilization. Although a cursory hunt for some suspected leak turned up nothing, maintenance reported that the swimming pool was experiencing inexplicable evaporation rates. For several consecutive mornings, instead of replacing an inch or so of water ordinarily absorbed into the atmosphere, daily losses were closer to six and seven inches. On Monday, July 23rd, a closer inspection of the pump room exterior wall revealed the lost water’s destination. After digging a four foot trench to locate the exact source of the damage, Tommy and Nesly found a cracked return pipe fed by the main drain that was disgorging its content into the surrounding landscaping.

Click to Knox Pools website
Knox Pools Proprietor Bill Knox
Bill Knox
Lyons made an emergency call to Knox Pools, the vendor whose competitive bid won the contract to install our new heat pumps in January. Within a few hours, the Knox technician opened the pump room wall and determined that settling by the adjacent ground created a fatal stress fracture and severed the pipe. As an added benefit, opening the wall provided us with an opportunity to evaluate all the lines carrying water between the pump room and the swimming pool. After quick consults with our structural engineer and pool service proprietor Bill Knox, we issued the green light to replace 5 PVC pipes peppered with stress cracks, some of which were actively leaking. Instead of recreating the vulnerable configuration that contributed to the damage, the battery of new pipes was sheathed together in a sleeve on either side of the wall, thereby providing the additional stability required to withstand any future shifting by the pool deck.

Nesly Exposed the Damaged Pipe
Nesly Exposed the
Damaged Pipe
Maintenance Chief Tom Downey
Maintenance Chief Tom Downey
Although our maintenance staff is fully credentialed by the State of Florida to chemically balance the pool, we asked Knox to integrate shock procedures into the repair schedule to expedite the pool’s return to service. While the two-man repair job was initially projected to take a week to ten days, assistance provided by our maintenance staffers cut the repair schedule in half. Specifically, support work performed by Nesly enabled the pool technicians to fully focus on the structural repairs, while Tommy performed a variety of testing procedures and “follow up” tasks after the technicians left each day. Between them, three days were shaved from the pool’s down time. By late Friday afternoon - four days after the problem was first discovered - the techs were sealing the newly closed wall with hydro-cement. Prepared notices announcing that the repairs would be completed next week were tossed; the pool was up and running by Saturday.

Marc Prudent and Rocky Edouard
Marc Prudent and Rocky Edouard
On Friday afternoon, an incredulous Lyons sent the following email update to board members: “Considering the pool went down Monday and for it to be potentially ready on Saturday or no later than Sunday (subject to unforeseen issues) is amazing and is a credit to the team effort with staff and Knox Pools.” Since Regency Tower has one of the most dedicated and talented maintenance crews in Broward County, we weren’t politely diverted to the pool facilities at Playa del Mar or Galt Ocean Club through the first week of August. Neither will we have to pay the additional $thousands that they helped knock off future water bills. Clearly, we owe our guys a debt of gratitude. When you next run into Tommy, Nesly, Rocky or Marc, a smile and a “Thanks!” is in order.


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The Regency Tower 8-Year Garage Flood

5th Wettest Month in Fort Lauderdale History

Flooded Garage at 31 Street in Fort Lauderdale October 31, 2011
Garage Flood at 31 St. on 10/31/2011
April 18, 2012 - Several months ago, when flooding along the descending ramps on the west side of the garage rose to levels that penetrated some vehicles, I asked Security to contact me if they witnessed a recurrence. Rain had fallen daily for almost a month. About a week later, I was notified at 10 PM that large puddles spanned the North and South drive lanes in the garage. When I arrived there about 5 minutes later, the puddles were gone. Security personnel were unsure about how the water entered the garage since they hadn’t noticed water streaming past the garage entrance trench drain despite the heavy rain.

Garage Flood at 43 St. at 3100 block
10/31 Garage Flood at 43 St. at 3100 block
On returning to the elevator, I noticed a large puddle on the south side of the garage extending from the rear of the Maintenance Room across the drive lane to the cars parked along the south wall. A similar puddle spanned the drive lane on the North side of the garage about twenty feet east of the elevator lobby. Filtering up through drains in the garage floor, the puddles grew as the rain intensified and contracted when it abated. When the rain stopped about 3 AM, so did the ponding. At their widest, puddles 30 feet in diameter were less than an inch deep.

Water Drains from Garage
Floor Drain in Garage
A few days later, I received another call about ponding in the garage. I again observed the intermittent buildup of water over the floor drains on both sides of the garage. The ebb and flow was again tied to the intensity of the rainfall. However, this time, during a long interval of heavy rain, the ponding water became sufficiently deep and wide to reach the descending ramps on the west side of the garage. The water began spilling down the ramp and accumulating at its base, revealing the mechanism by which the vehicles were infiltrated a few weeks earlier.

Trench Drain in front of Garage
Trench Drain in front of Garage
The daily rains finally slowed in early November. Some residents opined that a clogged drainage element may have caused the flooding. When it rained again a week later, the garage remained dry. Our engineer observed that a blockage would have precipitated a recurrence of the flooding. When no water entered the garage during several subsequent heavy rainfalls in December and January, he asserted that the near record high water table was primarily responsible for the anomalous flooding, not some blockage. To understand his rationale, you have to understand our drainage system.

Water purged from the building and the parking decks feeds into two catch basins at the base of the driveway entrance and exit ramps. It also feeds into two other catch basins in the lower driveway near the garage door. These catch basins are connected by large 18-inch pipes couched in a 72-inch trench and wrapped in permeable landscape cloth, perforated along the bottom and covered with a drain sleeve fabric. Called French Drains, they are filled with stones and sit on several yards of crushed rock. Water in the pipes is ordinarily absorbed into the surrounding ground. However, when the lower driveway becomes fully saturated, the pipes carry the water to a fifth catch basin near the sidewalk planter in the center of the lower driveway. Connected to an adjacent gravity well, when that central catch basin becomes filled, the water spills 161 feet down the well to a hard rock and coral geological shelf that carries it to the ocean.

Since the garage flooded whenever it rained for more than 34 years yet remained dry in the eight years since the drainage system was installed, what caused it to flood in October and stop thereafter? After almost a decade of draught conditions, October of 2011 was one of the five wettest months in Fort Lauderdale history. The last time that precipitation so fully saturated the Barrier Island was in October, 1999, when Hurricane Irene soaked the region for nine days.

Catch Basin
Catch Basin
With the water table above grade and the ground like a bloated sponge, pumps become useless. When the garage overflow is pumped outside, if it isn’t absorbed into the ground or an empty catch basin, it’s reacquired by the drainage system and returned to the garage. In short, when the ground is saturated and the volume of rainwater that falls over the entire property exceeds the volume that the well can evacuate, the overage temporarily collects on the garage floor. When the rain lets up, it provides the well with an opportunity to dispel the excess water, making room in the drainage system to recapture water ponding in the garage.

Broward Blvd after Rains 11/1/2011
Broward Blvd after Rains 11/1/2011
When the daily rain stopped, the water table returned to normal, allowing rainwater to be absorbed into the ground once again. As pointed out by our structural engineer, if preceded by these same conditions, the garage will again be at risk for flooding. Although these conditions are rare - given that they occurred once in the past eight years - we began researching a system for protecting those vehicles most vulnerable to infiltration.

Sunrise Blvd on Halloween 10/31/2011
Sunrise Blvd on Halloween 10/31/2011
Suggestions to have security notify the office when they witness flooding in the garage or installing flood detectors in those areas most prone to accumulation were problematic. Since the initial flooding can occur anytime, calling 16 to 20 residents at 3 AM with a warning to move their cars borders on the asinine. Also, unless the affected vehicles can be relocated within minutes of a noticeable water buildup, they may be infiltrated before they can be moved.

Click to South Florida Water Management District website Instead of waiting until water begins collecting in the garage, the engineer suggested that we issue preemptive notifications when conditions precedent to the flooding occur. If the ground becomes fully saturated following a week to ten days of daily rainfall, and more rain is expected, alerted owners would have up to 24 hours to relocate their vehicles outside, not just a few minutes. The South Florida Water Management District advised us to monitor their website for high saturation levels on the Barrier Island. When that occurs, and more rain is expected within 24 hours, the office could notify the affected vehicle owners.

Precautionary warnings that depend on weather forecasts aren’t foolproof. Predicted flooding may not occur – or may be manageable by our drainage system. Since those impacted own deeded parking spaces, each must decide whether or not to move their cars when called. When not in residence, affected vehicle owners can make arrangements to have their cars moved by friends or neighbors.

Jaffer Cleans System
Jaffer Cleans System
Our engineer also suggested maintenance protocols to preserve system efficiency. If drainage becomes observably enfeebled, he recommended several firms that specialize in “crawling” interred drainage pipes. Robotic or gooseneck-mounted cameras can detect defects in drainage components that corrupt their functionality. This one-time non-invasive diagnostic can rule out or facilitate the repair of cracked pipes or calcified buildups that impair drainage.

Click to Jaffer Well Drilling website While purging the catch basins and the garage door trench drain are modest procedures, cleaning the well is a 3-day ordeal. Jaffer, the company that installed our well – and the only company that cleans wells in South Florida – recommends this palliative every four years. Given their monopoly, most engineers believe that their timetable for this $6500 maintenance regimen is overly aggressive. If approved by the board, scheduling drainage and well maintenance during the off season would help minimize the inconvenience. Thank you for your kind attention.


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What’s that Strange Taste?

City Chlorinates Water

November 8, 2011 - Over the past few days, several unit owners have mentioned that their water tasted a bit different. On October 31, 2011, City of Fort Lauderdale Public Information Specialist Monique J. Damiano sent a notice to the Galt Mile Community Association. Entitled, "City of Fort Lauderdale to Chlorinate Water System" the Public Works message alerted city residents to an aspect of the City's preventive Water Sytem maintenance. The text of the message is as follows:

 

City of Fort Lauderdale to Chlorinate Water System
Water Treatment Scheduled for November 1 to 22, 2011

Chlorination Process
Chlorine Attracting Water
The City of Fort Lauderdale will temporarily return to using free chlorine in its drinking water system. This preventive maintenance procedure will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday, November 1, 2011 and will end at 9 a.m. Tuesday, November 22, 2011.

Free chlorination is a common practice for water systems using combined chlorine disinfection. The chlorination period is anticipated to be transparent to our customers; however, some may notice a slight change in the taste or smell of their tap water.

This procedure will affect the City of Fort Lauderdale, as well as Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Oakland Park, Port Everglades Authority, Village of Sea Ranch Lakes, Wilton Manors and sections of Davie and Tamarac.

The City of Fort Lauderdale maintains the highest standards to ensure that clean high quality drinking water is delivered to water customers. The City's drinking water meets federal, state and local drinking water quality standards.

Customers with questions who receive a utility bill from the City of Fort Lauderdale should contact the 24-Hour Customer Service Center at 954-828-8000 or online at www.fortlauderdale.gov/customerservice. Customer Service may also be reached via LauderServ, the City’s Android-based mobile application. For more information about LauderServ or to download the application, please visit www.fortlauderdale.gov/lauderserv.

Customers with questions who receive a utility bill from other municipalities or entities should call their respective water provider’s customer service phone number.

Monique J. Damiano, MPA
Public Information Specialist
City of Fort Lauderdale Public Works Department
949 N.W. 38th Street
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309
Ph: 954-828-7808

The City also treated our drinking water from June 5 through June 26 in 2010. In 2009, Broward County added free chlorine to our drinking water from September 9th through October 21st. The annual alteration in the disinfection chemical mix is prescribed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The periodic switch to free chlorine effectively reduces biological re-growth in the distribution system and helps maintain chlorine residual levels at the extremities of the distribution system during the normal chloramine disinfection process.

As exclaimed by Ms. Damiano, residents may experience a slight change in both the taste and smell of the water during this process. The water will remain safe for drinking, cooking, bathing, and other daily needs.

However, persons currently undergoing dialysis or suffering from a compromised immune system should consult with their health care provider to determine whether the temporary change in disinfection chemistry will affect their treatment. In addition, residents with a fish tank or pond, including grocery stores and restaurants with lobster tanks and fish containers at bait shops, that rely on city water should contact a pet or aquarium professional to determine the need for any adjustments to their aquarium treatment procedures. Since it takes approximately two weeks for the chlorine to clear, any percieved changes to the taste and smell may persist through early December. Personally, I can't tell the difference!


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What the Hell Happened?

New Manager Dwight Lyons Survives Acid Test

July 9, 2011 - On Tuesday, June 14th, our new manager survived his first acid test with flying colors. A mid-afternoon flood that quickly spread to more than a dozen floors also engulfed the lobby and the garage. Reminiscent of the serial hurricanes in 2004 and 2005, Regency Tower residents, board members and employees bonded to weather the crisis. However, the event’s happy ending was primarily orchestrated by an employee hired a few days before the deluge.

New Manager Dwight Lyons
Manager Dwight Lyons
Security Chief Carlos Pereira
Carlos Pereira
Shortly after 2 PM, new manager Dwight Lyons learned that water was inexplicably accumulating in the hallways on several floors, the lobby and areas in the garage filled with high-voltage equipment. With the ink on his new employment contract still wet, Dwight snapped into emergency mode. Relying on managerial conventions honed by years of experience, Dwight met with maintenance and security personnel to prioritize safety protocols. Cones and barriers were up within minutes as Security Chief Carlos Pereira and Security staffer Fay Givans routed residents through dry areas to and from the elevators.

While Dwight implemented safety measures, Maintenance Chief Tom Downey located and corrected a blockage responsible for the widespread flooding. After assigning Tommy, Mark and Rocky to help stem the spreading water, our new manager contacted Emergency Services 24, a vendor experienced in mitigating the impact of flash floods. In a brief meeting with Board Vice President Eric Berkowitz, Dwight described several benefits to out-sourcing the job’s wide-ranging containment requirements.

Marc Prudent and Rocky Edouard
Marc Prudent and Rocky Edouard
Maintenance Chief Tom Downey
Maintenance Chief Tom Downey
He pointed out that our employees wouldn’t be forced to neglect their regular duties while wholly preoccupied with the building’s recovery for 3 or 4 days. Secondly, instead of deploying the association’s sole Dri-Vac and blower to slowly address one area at a time, the company’s additional equipment would enable simultaneous rehabilitation of every hallway, the lobby and the garage, thereby returning full access to the residents almost overnight. Lastly, by drying all the affected areas at once, we better protect soaked carpeting and saturated hallway walls from an expensive proliferation of mold. The last reason alone could save the association tens of thousands of dollars. Dwight then proceeded to explain what happened.

A 20th floor air conditioning drainage line ordinarily used to expel condensation became blocked by an air pocket when a faulty valve failed to close properly. Instead of gravity draining condensation from the A/C unit, negative pressure sucked water back up the line and into the A/C unit. It soon overflowed, serially spilling into many of the individual AC units along the number 4 stack. On some floors where water overflowed into the stack 4 A/C closet, it also spilled into the adjacent hallway, where it was absorbed into the carpeting as well as the hallway baseboard and walls. Rapidly descending through various conduits to the floors below, when the water finally reached the uncarpeted ground floor and garage level, it ponded in the floor’s low areas. On the lobby floor, it filled the mail room and spread to the elevators and security desk. In the garage, it flooded the central walkway, the maintenance room and a meter room housing high voltage breakers. As it penetrated each floor, the water corrupted ceiling tiles. As such, more than half of the ceiling tiles in the mail room were destroyed. The water also damaged some wiring above the mail room ceiling.

Since our fire safety system is fully code compliant, when a small amount of water infiltrated an elevator shaft, our automated call system notified the Fire Department, bringing a contingent of Fire-Rescue personnel to the scene. Absent any fire, the fire safety staffers meandered aimlessly around the building. To better illustrate circumstances surrounding the flood, Dwight escorted one firefighter to the roof and described the roof-top water tower as a central element of the building’s HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system. After strolling about the roof for a few minutes, the firefighter found Dwight and proudly announced “I just turned off the pumps.” Dwight was perplexed. There are no pumps on the roof. The pumps were still operating in the garage level maintenance room when the impulsive city employee enigmatically decided to flip some switches and twist a valve he found near the water tower.

Having in fact turned off a fan and a pressure equalizer, the would-be Samaritan inadvertently precipitated an irreversible pressure buildup. Within minutes, a coupling burst and flooded the roof. When Honeywell funded a new roof for Regency Tower in 2002, it was redesigned to mitigate huge volumes of hurricane stormwater. As the content of our water tower explosively discharged, it drained harmlessly from the roof. However, the broken coupling would have to be replaced and the damage repaired before the water tower could be re-engaged. Until then – we would have no air conditioning.

Click to Edd Helms website As Fire-Rescue prepared to depart after trashing our air conditioning – during a heat wave – Dwight diplomatically thanked the boys in black for their “good intentions”. He also called Edd Helms, the company contracted to maintain our HVAC systems. After reviewing the damage caused by Fire-Rescue, the HVAC supervisor sent a crew member to pick up some replacement parts while others began repairing the exploded coupling’s attachments.

Click to Emergency Services 24 website By 6 PM, the flood mitigation crew from Emergency Services 24 were vacuuming the saturated hallway carpets and setting high powered blowers to expedite the drying process. Fortunately, only two unoccupied units were penetrated by the flood. The crew quickly cleared them of water and set additional blowers to preclude incipient damage.

Board President Eileen Bendis
Eileen Bendis & Crew
Protect 200+ A/Cs
Dwight and Eric were soon joined by Board President Eileen Bendis for a meeting with the HVAC repair crew from Edd Helms. Eric explained that whenever Regency Tower suffered post hurricane black outs, before turning the building’s electricity back on, FP&L warned him to turn off the A/C units to avoid potential burn-outs from surging electricity and/or initial water pressure damage from the suddenly functional water tower. When Dwight asked the HVAC supervisor what would happen when the water tower was reattached, he confirmed FP&L’s admonitions. As expected during a heat spell, most of the residents’ A/C units were on when the system went down. He said “If the system is reactivated while most of the A/C's are still on, the units could be damaged.” Along with Carlos and Security staffer Damian Brown, they divided up the building and began shutting down the individual A/C units in more than 200 hallway closets.

At 9 PM, the HVAC crew from Ed Helms reported that the coupling was repaired and the water tower was being filled. Following some test runs to insure that the newly replaced coupling was fully functional, the system was reactivated. Eileen and Dwight led the team of volunteers back into the hallways, where they turned on hundreds of idle air conditioners. At 10 PM, Carlos utilized the emergency P.A. system to inform grateful residents that their air conditioners were up and running. For two more days, blowers continued drying the most heavily saturated carpeted areas as Dwight retained an electrician to repair the damaged wiring above the mailroom ceiling.

Following the incident, when Eileen and Eric thanked Dwight for successfully managing the flood, he declined the praise, instead crediting our employees and residents for the expedited recovery. During the next few days, after personally thanking maintenance and security personnel for their disciplined and professional response to the emergency, he remarked that he was most impressed by their sincere concern for the safety and wellbeing of the building’s residents. Dwight admitted to being similarly surprised by how well residents cooperated with staff when faced with adversity. Dwight conceded “This place really is like a big family.”

The crisis cloaked an appreciable silver lining. Ordinarily, when a manager is hired, months pass before residents and employees become adequately confident in his or her capabilities to confirm that the board made the right choice. The process is sometimes marked by confusing pre-emptive resignations and/or questionable dismissals. If things go well, the manager slowly earns the residents’ respect and the staff’s trust.

The incident served to fast track this traditional gauntlet. Observing how the new manager reacted under pressure provided residents and staffers with insight into the operational arsenal and leadership flexibility he brings to the table. During the next few days, as residents spoke with board members and employees about the flood, they invariably applauded Dwight’s management of the emergency. This new found confidence also permeated the staff. Overnight, residual reservations about their new boss seemingly dissipated.

Mold could have proliferated
Mold - Could have Happened Here!
Since then, Dwight has been working with Board members to diminish the event’s budgetary impact. While carefully guiding the association’s insurance claim, Dwight has been vigorously negotiating with the participating vendors. In the interim, residents have been dropping by the office to meet the man who helped turn a potential disaster into a minor inconvenience. The visiting unit owners didn’t know that if Dwight hadn’t reacted quickly to remediate the water damage, the replacement and repair costs for thousands of square feet of hallway carpeting, hundreds of feet of new cove base, a dozen damaged hallway walls and the fiscal consequence of water levels reaching the meter room’s high voltage breakers could have warranted a six figure assessment – after insurance. Notwithstanding, these brief encounters with the new manager generally elicited a sentiment immortalized by Humphrey Bogart, “This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

The next time you run into Dwight, you might want to thank him for whatever money is still in your pocket!


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Emergency Alert from Comcast

Certain TVs will Need a DTA to Receive Channels 25 through 78


The Following is a Verbatim Message from Comcast

Comcast Digital Adapter (DTA)
FRONT - Comcast Digital Adapter (DTA) - REAR
March 18, 2011 - On April 20, 2011,
Comcast Cable will hold an event for the residents of Regency Tower to distribute and install Digital Adapters (DTA). Channels 25 through 78 will be moving to the digital range after May 24, 2011. In order to continue to view these channels, each television set will require a Digital Adapter (DTA).

The residents are entitled to receive up to 3 DTAs free of charge. If you have more than 3 televisions, a monthly fee of $1.99 for each additional adapter installed will appear on your monthly statement.

Comcast Web Site Customer Service Representatives and Technicians will be on hand to answer questions and install the equipment.

If you are unable to attend the event on April 20, 2011, please call 1-877-634-4434. Any resident that schedules an appointment before or after the event date to have the DTA equipment installed will be charged a onetime install fee of $17.90.

Additional Info about the DTA Event

Some History

  • On February 17, 2009, in compliance with a congressional mandate, the era of analog television transmissions came to an end as television stations began using digital signals to carry their broadcasts. Several months earlier, Comcast sent mailers to every customer temporarily offering free digital set-top boxes to facilitate the transition. Weeks later, Regency Tower also notified unit owners about the changeover, recommending that they request the digital set-top boxes from Comcast. Similar notices were included in the Regency Tower Newsletter and on the web site. While many Regency Tower residents took advantage of the offer, others declined. About six months later, Comcast began charging a monthly fee to those customers who ordered the box after the special offer expired. During our last contract negotiation, Comcast agreed to continue sending both digital and analog signals to Regency Tower until they could provide customers with a cost-free opportunity to receive digital transmissions. Comcast has just scheduled a one-day event to provide Regency Tower customers with that opportunity.

The Event

  • On May 24, 2011, televisions in Regency Tower that are not attached to a Comcast Digital Set-Top Box will no longer receive channels 25 through 78. To avoid losing these channels on your televisions, you can either order Digital Set-Top Boxes from Comcast for a monthly fee or install devices called Digital Adapters (DTA). On April 20th, in-residence Regency Tower unit owners will have an opportunity to have Comcast affix these Digital Adapters to the televisions in their homes. While the first three are free, each additional DTA will incur a $1.99 monthly charge on future statements. At 2 PM, a team of 10 to 12 Comcast Technicians and Customer Service personnel will convert the Rendezvous Room into a project headquarters. Residents must come down to the Rendezvous Room between 2 PM and 8 PM and register for the free installation. After confirming your name and unit number, return to your unit to await the Comcast technicians who will perform the installation.

    NOTE: The Comcast installation personnel will not enter unattended units. Someone must be there to oversee the installation when the Comcast technicians arrive at your unit! SORRY! Regency Tower maintenance and security staffers are not available for this purpose. They will be preoccupied with their normal duties. Remember: This is a Comcast event. Regency Tower’s involvement is limited to hopefully relieving some of the prospective confusion and inconvenience.

    Residents unable to provide access and oversight on April 20th can schedule an alternative installation date for a onetime fee of $17.90. To schedule an alternative installation date, call 1-877-634-4434. Comcast customers able to personally install the devices can also ask about picking up the DTAs from Comcast or receiving them by mail. One unit owner reported picking up the DTAs at the Comcast location at 1139 N Federal Highway (south of 13th Street - before Sunrise Boulevard).

The Digital Adapter (DTA) and the Digital Set-Top Box

  • Digital Set-Top Box
    Digital Set-Top Box (Black or Silver)
    The DTA is necessary for any television that is not serviced by a Digital Set-Top Box. A Digital Adapter (also known as a DTA) provides digital-quality signals, but does not allow access to Comcast On Demand services or the on-screen guide. The DTA isn't necessary if your television is connected to a Digital set-top box (also known as a digital converter box or digital receiver). If, for instance, you have two televisions connected to Digital set-top boxes and a third that is not, you will need a DTA for that third TV.

  • As those of you that have a Digital set-top box already know, in addition to processing digital-quality signals, the Digital set-top box offers access to the On Demand library (a rotating inventory of free movies, sports, broadcast specials, etc - all available 24/7), the On-Screen Channel Guide, and approximately 40 commercial-free music channels. Instead of two HBO channels, residents that have the Digital set-top box receive nine HBO channels (One in spanish and one that receives a High Definition signal). The DTA does not provide access to these additional services.

Why does the picture not fill my screen after I installed my digital adapter?

  • The digital adapter supports a screen aspect ratio of 4:3 only. This means that the picture is formatted for standard definition programming and will not support high-definition (HD) or widescreen programs. As a result, the programming will not fill the entire screen of a widescreen television. While you cannot adjust the aspect ratio on the digital adapter, many televisions will allow you to adjust it on the television through the Settings menu. By changing the aspect ratio on your television, you are in essence "stretching" the standard definition picture to fit your widescreen television. Of course, if you upgrade to a digital set-top box, in addition to a truckload of additional services, the picture will adapt to the screen.

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Now it’s Our Turn to Act!

What the Sprinkler Opt-Out Voting Package means

Governor Crist Signs Sprinkler Reief Bill at Beach Community Center
Governor Crist Signs Sprinkler Relief
Bill at Beach Community Center
November 12, 2010 - After eight years of sweating out a dreaded $million plus statutory assessment for retrofitting Regency Tower hallways and unit foyers with sprinkler heads, the Governor finally
signed the recently passed opt-out bill (SB 1196) into law.

National Fire Sprinkler Association When the Governor learned that the Sprinkler Association lobby manipulated the 2002 legislature into passing the nation’s only mandate to retrofit buildings that were already fully compliant with State and local fire codes – a $multi-billion self-styled “stimulus package” for the Sprinkler Industry – he agreed to help the 18,000 Florida condo and co-op associations whose members objected to footing the bill for retrofits that the Florida insurance industry not only officially characterized as unworthy of any rate reduction but could boost rates due to prospective water damage.

To opt-out of the sprinkler installation and forego the expensive assessment, an association must first conduct a vote of the membership. If a majority of the association’s members vote FOR OPTING OUT of the retrofit requirement, they don’t have to comply with the existing sprinkler mandate. It’s as simple as that. The voting results are then filed with the County and entered into a State database. Until this is accomplished, a local fire marshal can notify an Association to submit expensive engineering plans for retrofitting the building. To avoid this particularly unpleasant prospect, our Board decided to hold the vote as soon as possible, immunizing our unit owners against any impulse by the local fire marshal to trigger any assessment.

Donna Berger
Donna Berger
More importantly, at the November 1st Galt Mile Council meeting, Executive Director Donna Berger of the Community Advocacy Network (CAN) - a well-known Association Attorney who was instrumental in passing the relief bill - warned of another potential threat. The bill provides associations with a multi-year window to opt out. If too many associations drag their feet in scheduling the vote, sprinkler lobbyists plan to use the tentative response to convince lawmakers at the 2011 legislative session in February that most condo owners actually want to fund their huge payday.

Tyco Fire Suppression Products Unwilling to leave $billions in projected revenues on the table, the deep-pocketed Sprinkler Associations, whose membership includes corporate juggernauts Tyco and Allied Signal-Honeywell, successfully kept their stimulus package alive for eight years and convinced two Governors to veto relief bills that were overwhelmingly passed by the legislature. Make no mistake; they know how to play political hardball.

By registering our intentions prior to the legislative session, we can join with thousands of other common interest communities and deter any attempts to revive this expensive burden.

I Don't Understand the Proxy Package!

Since our attorney tailored the proxy to conform with the complicated relief legislation, it's not surprising that the proxy language is confusing. As defined in the Proxy Page, the issue we are voting on is whether or not we want “To forego retrofitting the Common Elements, Association Property or Units with a fire sprinkler system as authorized in Section 718.112(2)(l) of the Florida Statutes.”

We are then provided with an opportunity to vote FOR or AGAINST. Here's the deal. If you are in favor of opting out and avoiding the huge assessment, vote “FOR”. If you DO NOT want to opt out of the expensive requirement to install the sprinklers, vote “AGAINST”. Get the idea! If you are still confused by how the proxy is worded, call Eric Berkowitz at 954-564-4427.

  • I DO NOT WANT SPRINKLERS! - Vote "FOR" Opting Out of the retrofit
  • I WANT SPRINKLERS! - Vote "AGAINST" Opting Out of the retrofit


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Unit Owners Catch a Break

El Scroungo Gets the Boot!

November 2, 2010 - The Regency Tower Board finally plugged a four year drain on the finances of every Regency Tower unit owner. When the former owner of Unit 1508 stopped paying his association dues years ago, his share of the Association expenses was unceremoniously dumped onto every other association member. After years of countering a litany of legal tactics that delayed foreclosure and further compounded every owner’s fiscal burden, the delinquent was finally evicted on Tuesday, October 26, 2010.

Unfortunately, when the former unit owner dropped by to ostensibly collect a few remaining “personal possessions”, he grabbed anything that wasn’t nailed down - along with many things that were. Following his departure, security and maintenance staffers documented and photographed a unit awash in broken, missing and partially lifted floor tiles, sections of missing cove molding, large holes where eviscerated bathroom medicine chests were ripped from the wall and exposed wiring at fixture plates and room outlets. Every appliance was missing. Closer inspection of the electrical connection points revealed that wiring was missing deep into the walls. As a result, maintenance will spend the next few weeks repairing the damage. More about this later (a lot more).

How Can I Help?

The Administration’s current charge is to restore the unit’s ability to produce income for the Association. Before Unit 1508 can be rented or sold, the extensive damage must be repaired and the unit restocked with basic appliances and furniture. On November 1st, Manager Nicholson-Brown began scouting these necessities. After contacting thrift shops for leads, the Manager posted notices asking unit owners to contribute items planned for replacement or the dumpster (second-hand is fine).

Since it is unlikely that contributions will include the major appliances needed to make the unit livable, if not marketable, the manager is researching sale-priced ovens, stoves, microwaves and refrigerators. Hopefully, donations will replace some of the basic furnishings, including a table, chairs, sofa(s), coffee table, bed, mattress & box spring, bed frame, linens, pillows, curtains, utensils, pots & pans, dishes, glassware, etc.

Anything you can donate will help facilitate the unit’s transformation into an income producing association asset. We also welcome any decorative pillows, vases, balcony furnishings, rugs, pictures, plants, paintings and wall hangings. Items that cannot be replaced from donations or scavenged from thrift shops will have to be purchased. While donations will help defray expenses, the objective is to bring in fresh rental or sales income. The relevant Confucian logic is simple, despite its striking similarity to a fortune cookie euphemism - the more we donate - the less we spend – the more we make!


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Where’s the Sand?

Broward Beach Project Up and Running

The Hollywood Beach Community Center
Hollywood Beach Community Center
July 15, 2010 - On April 30, 2002, two busloads of Galt Mile residents
attended a public hearing at the Hollywood Beach Community Center in support of the Army Corps of Engineers plan to renourish our shrinking beaches. On May 13, 2003, a contingent of eight Galt Mile residents (including 4 from Regency Tower) flew to Tallahassee to refute contentions by outside interests from the Real Estate and Scuba lobbies that coastal residents “don’t want their beaches renourished.” Our neighbors’ testimony to the Florida Cabinet resulted in the inclusion of beaches from Fort Lauderdale to Pompano in the Broward Shore Protection Project. For the past decade, increasingly frustrated Galt Mile residents have been anxiously awaiting promised repairs to what the Florida Department of Environmental Protection characterized as their “severely eroded beach.” Although the project was temporarily derailed by events blending elements of “Waiting for Godot” with “The Three Stooges Meet Alice in Wonderland,” County Administrator Bertha Henry assures us that our sand is on the way.

Hopper Dredge Liberty Island at John U. Lloyd Beach State Park
Hopper Dredge Liberty Island at
John U. Lloyd Beach State Park
When the hopper dredge “Liberty Island” pumped out a last load of sand onto the beach at John U. Lloyd Beach State Park on February 8, 2006, it marked an end to the South Broward portion (Segment III) of the Broward Beach Renourishment Project. Unlike previous beach renourishment efforts, wherein sand was simply dredged offshore and dumped onto eroded beaches, Broward Beach Administrator Steve Higgins delivered a plan based on sustainability. While adding 100 to 150 feet of sand to beaches in Hollywood, Hallandale Beach and Dania Beach, his plan also provided for construction of three boulder mound erosion control structures at the northern end of John U. Lloyd Beach State Park.

Port Everglades Inlet Sand Bypassing
Sand Bypass Erosion Control
at Port Everglades Inlet
Coastal inlets, such as the entrance to Port Everglades, disrupt the natural southerly migration of sand along the shore. This erosion control architecture will serve to stabilize the beach at that very dynamic location without adverse down drift impacts. In addition to protecting the Port, these structures will extend the effective life of the renourishment. Higgins foresees replacing the need for future full scale renourishments with a series of small fills targeting the hot spots primarily responsible for sand expunged from the system.

Click to Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Web Site At the May 13, 2003 meeting of the Florida Cabinet, representatives of every major grass roots and governmental environmental organization stressed the importance of preserving the beach habitat by implementing the Beach Renourishment plan approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and further adapted by every Federal and State Environmental Agency. To better protect the surrounding marine environment, the Florida Cabinet mandated an 18-month monitoring period following the renourishment of South Broward’s beaches. Data included in a subsequent report to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) would be used to enhance environmental mitigations for the next stage (Segment II) of the County’s comprehensive coastal rescue plan.

Click to Nova Southeast University Oceanographic Institute Web Site After the monitoring period ended in late August of 2007, a report was compiled by the official monitors from Nova Southeastern University and a joint venture of coastal engineering consulting firms, including Coastal Planning and Engineering, Inc. and Olsen Asssociates, Inc. When it arrived in Tallahassee, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) analyzed their observations. Along with an evaluation of the post-renourishment beach environment, the report documented two species of coral in the catchment area that the federal government designated as “threatened” in 2006. DEP notified their Broward counterpart that these new corals should be added to the list of protected marine organisms prior to the upcoming Segment II project.

Click to Fort Lauderdale No Bypass Resolution Following several housekeeping correspondences addressing port inlet maintenance, communications between the Broward Biological Resources Division and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection inexplicably broke down. When asked by GMCA officials about the Segment II project, the County beach officials responded with a series of irrelevant diversions throughout 2008 and 2009, focusing instead on additional erosion control devices and a nondescript hunt for sand. When the County applied to the City of Fort Lauderdale for permission to enhance erosion control at Port Everglades on January 6, 2009, a frustrated City Commission refused access to the County, insisting that they first complete the promised Segment II renourishment of Fort Lauderdale’s beaches.

Soon after, the City posted a page on their web site entitled Help Save Fort Lauderdale Beach, which provides the email addresses of the County Commissioners and states “The Fort Lauderdale City Commissioners need your help to make sure that Fort Lauderdale is not pushed to the back of the line. Let Broward County know that you oppose the proposed Port Everglades Sand Bypass Project and that you want them to implement the Segment II Beach Renourishment Project as promised.” Their inclusion of Commissioner Keechl on the contact list wasn’t necessary, since he had previously emailed the City Commission expressing those same sentiments.

FDEP Secretary Michael W. Sole
FDEP Secretary
Michael W. Sole
Enraged by a two-year runaround, the GMCA Advisory Board launched its own investigation. Asked to ascertain the status of resources allocated to renourish the beach, Broward Commissioner Ken Keechl reported that the project’s Federal and State funding was intact. Upon contacting Secretary Michael Sole of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the GMCA learned that Broward Beach officials hadn’t responded to Departmental inquiries for the past year. While the two agencies were locked in a mysterious bureaucratic limbo, the Federal permit authorizing the project expired. When the GMCA reported this unfathomable stupidity to City officials and Commissioner Keechl, they went ballistic. Ordinarily restrained and imperturbable, Keechl promised someone’s “head on a platter.”

Broward Beach Administrator Stephen Higgins
Stephen Higgins
Beach Wizzard
Prior to proceeding with Segment II, Broward beach officials would first have to repeat the environmental testing required for a new federal permit. Fortunately, since DEP Chief Mike Sole came to Tallahassee via Broward County, he is intimately familiar with the project’s scientific and engineering parameters. While an arduous repetition of the federal permit process is unavoidable, in July of 2009, Sole had Beaches & Coastal Systems Environmental Administrator Martin Seeling grant Higgins a 5-year State permit extension through June 4, 2014, saving the Broward Beach Administrator months of additional paper shuffling.

The GMCA elicited an agreement from Sole to personally oversee future interagency communications and another from Keechl to closely follow the County’s progress. Factoring in the additional time required for permitting exigencies and statutory delays attendant to turtle nesting season, the Segment II starting date is projected for late 2011.

Since the plan to rehabilitate our Segment II beaches was initially developed by the County and approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Broward coast has subsequently experienced severe incremental storm damage, predominantly from the serial hurricanes of 2004 and 2005. While all of the Segment II beaches were affected, several beach areas in Pompano and Lauderdale-by-the Sea suffered nearly full displacement. Prior to implementing the planned beach renourishment, a County-conceived interim effort is expected to return these beaches to their pre-storm (2004) condition - while providing a serendipitous benefit to the Galt Ocean Mile beach.

FCCE Sand Infusion on LBTS Beach The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, has allocated $4.5 million to initiate the planning, engineering and design of an approved storm reclamation effort entitled “Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies Project” (FCCE). In a nutshell, before commencing the Segment II beach renourishment, the county plans to dump huge volumes of sand on compromised beach areas just north of Anglin’s Pier. Project engineers confirm that the sand will naturally drift south, providing a near-immediate benefit to the northernmost Galt Ocean Mile beach. Within months, the continually migrating sand will similarly enhance beach footage along the entire Galt Mile. Ultimately, along with roughly 100 to 150 feet of sand from the Segment II beach renourishment, the Galt Ocean Mile Beach should realize an additional 15 to 30 feet of beach area from the FCCE project. Former Director Steve Somerville of the Broward County Department of Planning and Environmental Protection (DPEP) offered this less than memorable observation at the 2003 Florida Cabinet hearing, “You can never have too much sand on the beach.”

Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry
Broward County
Administrator
Bertha Henry
On May 27, 2010, Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry compiled a correspondence for Fort Lauderdale City Manager George Gretsas entitled Beach Nourishment Activities Quarterly Report. The report is a status update of the two beach projects that affect every Galt Ocean Mile resident. Since the Broward Beach Renourishment Project and the Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies Project are both exercises in coastal engineering, Gretsas copied City Engineer Al Carbon as well as the City Commission on June 14th.

In addition to updates relating to Segments I and III of the Beach Renourishment Project, Bertha Henry’s notice to the City contained the following data about the General Information and Segment II project components (which includes the Galt Ocean Mile beach). Read on...

 


Bertha W. Henry, County Administrator
115 S. Andrews Avenue, Room 409 Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301
PHONE: 954-357-7362 FAX: 954-357-7360

Broward County Beach Erosion Control Program
Status as of May 12, 2010

Beach Erosion Control, General:

  • Structure Study: Staff is finalizing review of the draft study. Following revision by the consultants, copies of the final report will be coordinated with shorefront municipalities.

  • Sand Search: The investigation located approximately 2.8 million cubic yards of sand offshore of the northern portion of the County, of which approximately 1.4 million cubic yards could be of adequate quality for use on our beaches, pending more detailed evaluations of sand quality and the potential for impacts to coral reef resources from use of the material.

  • Bahamian Sand: County staff is awaiting a response from the Bahamian Government to a request to purchase and import 200,000 cubic yards of Bahamian sand for a pilot project.

  • Funding Advocacy: Staff continues to work with state and national beach preservation associations, elected officials and agencies to advocate for continuation of state and federal funding for beach erosion control projects.

Segment II Beach Renourishment, Hillsboro Inlet to Port Everglades

  • Broward County Beach Renourishment Project Web Site Project Reformation: The County is evaluating the design of the Segment II beach renourishment project in the context of current physical, economic and environmental conditions. The not-yet-formulated beach fill project could include material from one or more sand sources, and may involve sand brought in by truck. An agenda item for a consultant contract amendment to continue engineering/design and permitting will be coming before the Board of County Commissioners before summer break. The project could potentially result in sand placement on portions of beach in Fort Lauderdale, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, and Pompano Beach.

  • Primary Issues:

    • Hardbottom Monitor
      Hardbottom Monitor
      Increased regulation due to federal listing of two coral species found offshore of Broward County and the designation as critical of all hardbottom habitat;

    • Limited opportunity for dramatic widening of the beaches due to proximity of nearshore hardbottoms;

    • Increased regulatory emphasis on sand quality;

    • Costs for beach renourishment have increased while potential local, state, and federal funds have diminished.

  • Permitting: DEP has extended the formerly issued permit for nourishment of Segment II for five years while project reformulation is conducted. There is no equivalent draft federal permit, which means a new Corps of Engineers permit will be required for a nourishment of Segment II beaches.

  • Federal Hurricane Beach Rehabilitation: The County has requested that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers implement the approved Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies (FCCE) Project. The Jacksonville District Corps has allocated about $4.5 million to initiate planning, engineering and design of a project restore to pre-storm conditions the previously constructed (Hillsboro inlet to the Fort Lauderdale/Lauderdale-by-the-Sea border) Segment II nourishment project. The Corps calculated that approximately 330,000 cubic yards of material would be placed on those beaches. The schedule for construction and exact placement areas are to be determined.

  • Schedule: Broward County-conducted beach construction in Segment II is targeted for November of 2011, pending completion of the engineering/design and permitting processes in a timely fashion.


Bertha Henry
Broward County Administrator

While “heads on a platter” are a poor substitute for a healthy beach, Advisory Board members are sufficiently irate to take a cue from Mayor Keechl and “raise hell” if project progress is again victimized by ineptitude. As future notices are reviewed by the GMCA Advisory Board, they will also be posted on the Galt Mile web site. More to come...

Click To Top of Page

Plugging Holes in the Fiscal Bucket

You CAN Make a Difference!

February 22, 2010 - Of the costly issues currently facing Regency Tower residents, two are distinguished by a brief opportunity to defuse their threatened fiscal impact. Our reaction to the first one will determine whether each of us will be forced to pony up from $8000 to $18,000 for an assessment yielding a questionable benefit. The second issue is far less dramatic in effect. A policy implemented by the Fort Lauderdale City Commission will pump revenue into the City treasury while abating traffic accidents. Although a laudable objective, this budgetary infusion will derive primarily from our unsuspecting snowbird neighbors upon returning to their Florida homes.

1st Issue: Burning No Retrofit Fire Sprinklers Cash

National Fire Sprinkler Association At a 2009 Regency Tower board meeting, a concerned homeowner suggested that we begin setting aside reserve funds for an extremely expensive sprinkler system currently mandated by Florida Statute for installation by 2014. Enacted in 2002, the statute was drafted by lobbyists for the American Fire Sprinkler Association, the National Fire Sprinkler Association (trade groups created to sell sprinkler systems) and the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union. The bill guaranteed a $multi-billion payday for these entities – at our expense.

Florida Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association (FFMIA) When initially filed in 2002, certain representatives from the Florida Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association (FFMIA) called on legislators to pass the bill as a testament to their “concern for the safety of our heroic firefighters.” Instead of presenting authoritative documentation demonstrating that a variety of different fire safety solutions should be tailored to a structure’s material composition, size, entry and egress, construction features and existing fire safety elements, the impressively uniformed lobbyists convinced key lawmakers that sprinkler retrofits were a fire safety panacea for every condominium. Their arguments were unabashedly “accompanied” by strategic contributions to the legislators’ campaign coffers.

Chuck Akers - Executive Director - FFMIA & AFSA
Chuck Akers - Executive
Director - FFMIA & AFSA
Not surprisingly, many of the uniformed retrofit proponents were receiving two paychecks. Executive Director Chuck Akers of the Florida Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association is also the Executive Director of the American Fire Sprinkler Association, an industry trade group responsible for boosting sprinkler sales. Other key Fire Marshals Association officials are also employed by the National Fire Sprinkler Association, another sprinkler trade organization behind the original legislation. FFMIA Past President and lifetime member Steven Randall is also the South Central Regional Manager of the National Fire Sprinkler Association (AKA Florida Fire Sprinkler Association). FFMIA lifetime member Buddy Dewar also serves as the National Fire Sprinkler Association’s Director of Regional Operations.

Buddy Dewer, FFMIA - NFSA Operations Director, Lobbyist
Buddy Dewer - Lobbyist
FFMIA & NFSA
Following a State-wide outcry against the suspect expenditure, the legislation was subsequently modified to allow condo owners in high rise buildings to “Opt Out” of retrofitting their units “by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of all voting interests”. Enacted over virulent objections by lobbyists for the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union and the Fire Sprinkler Associations, the opt-out provision allowed Associations and their Fire Safety Engineers to tailor a “Alternative Minimum Life Safety System” instead of the budget busting full sprinkler retrofit. As a financial concession to the lobbying interests, the corrective legislation required Fire Safety Engineers to add sprinkler retrofits in every unit foyer and common area when designing a comprehensive Fire Protection plan for high rise associations.

National Fire Sprinkler Association Make no mistake. The statutory “Alternative Minimum Life Safety System” was never intended for extinguishing fires. Its stated objective is to provide a moderately safe egress. It is only one of many layers of fire protection in an engineered fire safety plan. Since effective early detection and containment will save far more lives than the sprinklers placed in unit foyers and certain common areas (as required for an Alternative Minimum Life Safety Plan), they are arguably more important components to any integrated fire safety system. During legislative committee review, the Statehouse staff assessment questioned the productivity of the statute’s sizable expense to homeowners, confirming that throughout Florida’s history, not one life would have been saved by installing sprinkler heads in unit foyers.

No Retrofit Fire Sprinklers To provide relief for association members besieged by hurricane-related expenses, the 2006 Florida Legislature unanimously passed House Bill 391, extending the deadline for retrofitting sprinklers in high rise unit foyers and common areas from the current 2014 to 2025. Despite a favorable vote by every single lawmaker in the Senate and the Statehouse, lame duck Governor Jeb Bush vetoed the bill – a parting gift to the sprinkler associations for their earlier campaign generosity.

Representative Ellyn Bogdanoff
Representative Ellyn Bogdanoff
Responding to the fiscal exigencies of a world-wide recession, our District 91 Statehouse Representative Ellyn Bogdanoff filed House Bill 419 last year - which along with Senate Bill 714 - again sought to extend the retrofit deadline from 2014 to 2025. Although it was passed unanimously in the Senate and by an overwhelming plurality (114 Yeas vs. 2 Nays - 4 not voting) in the Statehouse, on June 1, 2009, the bill was again vetoed, this time by lame duck Governor Charlie Crist. Confident that his record popularity poll stats would guarantee the Washington Senate seat, Crist’s handlers decided to placate the deep-pocketed sprinkler associations at the expense of 2 million voting association members.

No Retrofit Fire Sprinklers On January 4, 2010, Representative Bogdanoff filed House Bill 561, which improves on the sprinkler retrofit resolution napalmed earlier by the Governor. The bill returns the retrofit decision back to the homeowners who must live with and pay for that decision. By a vote of two-thirds of the unit owners, a high rise association would be able to completely opt-out of the sprinkler retrofit and the huge assessment. To insure that the decision to opt out reflects the intentions of unit owners in perpetuity, the vote can be repeated every three years. Broward Senator Jeremy Ring filed Senate Bill 1222, which mirrors the text of Bogdanoff’s bill in the other chamber. Click here to read the actual text of the "opt out" provision.

Former Statehouse Speaker Marco Rubio, Representative Ellyn Bogdanoff and Governor Charlie Crist
Rubio, Bogdanoff and Crist
A meeting with the Governor’s top staffers revealed that the Governor would support the legislation if again passed by the legislature. Governor Crist’s Senate bid has recently encountered serious reversals, given the heated competition for the Florida Senate seat by former Statehouse Speaker Marco Rubio and Democrat contender Kendrick Meek. By endorsing the bill, Crist would recapture much of the support he lost by sacrificing voters for dollars.

No Retrofit Fire Sprinklers However, Governor Crist has demonstrated a marked proclivity for flip-flopping when faced with political decisions, especially if they impact his dream job in Washington D.C. After agreeing to support the opt-out bill, he has already made public statements that he might again veto such legislation. Fortunately, the Governor’s political handlers reliably respond to voter feedback that could affect his Senate seat aspirations. In a nutshell, they are measuring the Sprinkler Associations' contention that few association members would care about the huge assessment. Representative Bogdanoff clarified, “Every condo and co-op owner needs to contact the Governor and express their concern about funding this questionable assessment in this economic climate.”

Vice Mayor Sue Gunzburger and Mayor Ken Keechl
V.M. Gunzburger and Mayor Keechl
Public officials in local jurisdictions across the state are moving to support the Retrofit Relief legislation. After meeting with State Fire Marshal Division Director Julius Halas, the City of Naples City Council passed a resolution supporting Bogdanoff's relief bill on February 19th. Closer to home, District 1 Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Bruce Roberts plans to introduce a resolution supportive of the relief bill in Fort Lauderdale. On March 2nd, Broward Mayor Ken Keechl and Vice Mayor Sue Gunzburger proposed a similar resolution for the Broward Board of County Commissioners. In the Resolution, the County Board states “The Broward County Board of County Commissioners does hereby declare, and urge Governor Charlie Crist to adhere to the will of the Florida Legislature and the millions of impacted Floridians and allow HB 561 and SB 1222 (as same may be amended or renumbered) to pass safely into law.” Broward Mayor (and District 4 Commissioner) Ken Keechl also plans to include it in the County legislative agenda which he is scheduled to deliver next month in Tallahassee.

The Bottom Line

If you don’t have substantial resources squirreled away for this highly dubious expense, you can impact Crist’s decision. While municipal resolutions are important vehicles for framing this issue, YOUR INPUT will ultimately determine the outcome of this dilemma. Along with our Galt Mile neighbors, Regency Tower is joining with thousands of associations across Florida in a campaign to contact the Governor and indicate support for this legislation. Please take a moment to send an email or letter to the Governor asking that he support House Bill 561... or start saving thousands of dollars for an upcoming assessment! After all... it’s your money!

Make a Difference!

  • Send a letter to the Governor Click Here to send an email to Governor Charlie Crist. Tell him what you think or simply ask that he support House Bill 561.

  • It would also help to zip one off to Lieutenant Governor Jeffrey Kottkamp. Click Here to email Lieutenant Governor Kottkamp.
  • If you have another minute, please notify Florida CFO and State Fire Marshal Alex Sink. Click Here to email CFO Alex Sink.
  • Finally, you can reach out to Division of State Fire Marshal Director Julius Halas. Click Here to email Director Halas.

Send a letter to the Governor Don't like emails? Either call or send a letter to the Governor at:

  • Governor Charlie Crist
    The Capitol
    400 South Monroe Street
    Tallahassee, Florida 32399
  • Phone: (850) 488-7146, Fax: (850) 487-0801

For a comprehensive review of the fire sprinkler retrofit issue and the threatened assessment, Click Here

2nd Issue: Red Light Traffic Cameras

Click to Large Automated Camera Red Light Traffic Enforcement System The second issue is a warning of sorts. Those of you who followed discussions about the City’s FY 2010 budget possibly remember one of the more esoteric sources of municipal revenue, the “Automated Camera Red Light Traffic Enforcement System.” The traffic lights at ten dangerous intersections around the city have been earmarked for connection to high resolution video cameras. The cameras will snap images of vehicles that are caught in the intersection after the light turns red. Based on close-ups of the license plate, tickets will automatically be issued to the vehicle’s owner, not the transgressing driver.

Red Light Camera Traffic Enforcement Warning Sign In 2005, when Pembroke Pines City Attorney Sam Goren asked then Attorney General Charlie Crist for a relevant legal opinion, Crist concluded that cities couldn’t issue red light traffic tickets without changes to the State’s uniform traffic code. This further weakened the legal underpinnings of a system already beset by a constitutional “due process” controversy since the vehicle’s owner is punished for the driver’s infraction. Despite the potential legal quagmire, many municipalities throughout the State have opted to proceed with installing a red light camera enforcement system because it reliably fills shortfalls in the City budget. Studies also indicate that monitored intersections realize a drop in accidents, injuries and fatalities. While focusing on the public safety benefit, local jurisdictions circumvent the system’s legal obstacles by implanting a special ordinance into the municipal code - not unlike the one passed by the Fort Lauderdale City Commission last June. Hence, the resulting tickets will be issued for local code violations, not for infractions of the traffic law.

Attention: Regency Tower Snowbirds

Generally oblivious to which locations were selected for surveillance, unsuspecting visitors and “snowbirds” statistically comprise the majority of vehicle owners tagged at camera equipped intersections. Since familiarizing oneself with the ten sites designated for initial placement can thwart potential victimization, the list has been posted below. Please note that three locations are right up the block on Federal Highway at both Commercial and Oakland Park Boulevards. As local drivers are well aware, the long traffic lights at these intersections prompt many drivers to speed through yellow lights to beat out the annoying delay. Forget it! To avoid an automatic $125 fine – or spending a day futilely pleading before a Special Magistrate (who is paid by the City) – stop the damned car and wait out the 2 minutes! Within the City of Fort Lauderdale, cameras will be mounted on red lights at the following intersections:

  • Eastbound East Sunrise Boulevard at NE 15th Ave;

  • Southbound NE 15th Ave at East Sunrise Boulevard;

  • Southbound North Federal Highway at East Oakland Park Boulevard;

  • Westbound NW 62nd Street/West Cypress Creek Road at NW 9th Ave/Powerline Road;

  • Eastbound NW 62nd Street/West Cypress Creek Road at NW 31st Ave;

  • Southbound NW 31st Ave at NW 62nd Street/West Cypress Creek Road;

  • Eastbound West Sunrise Boulevard at NW 9th Ave;

  • Westbound West Sunrise Boulevard at NW 9th Ave;

  • Eastbound East Commercial Boulevard at North Federal Highway/U.S. 1 and

  • Westbound East Commercial Boulevard at North Federal Highway/U.S. 1

    Click to City of Oakland Park PS: If the City of Oakland Park also proceeds with plans to install the camera enforcement system at intersections deemed by the Broward Sherriff’s Office (BSO) as the most dangerous within the Oakland Park jurisdiction, monitored sites will likely include Dixie Highway at Commercial and Oakland Park Boulevards, just a few blocks farther west. Stay alert... stay alive... and save money!

    For additional information about the Red Light Camera Enforcement System and the surrounding legal, constitutional and financial controversies, Click Here

    Paint Project Completed!!!

    Regency Tower Boasts New Skin

    October 2, 2009 - The job is done. Our home enjoys a new - desperately needed - protective coating. The tricky stack 11 challenge was tackled without encountering any of the obstacles that previously forced a reconsideration of the project strategy. Following completion of the south and west building faces, the contractor expected to commence painting the north wall starting at easternmost corner and heading west (toward the street). As they'd done for each new stack, the crew assembled the high pressure cleaning equipment in preparation for removing old layers of paint and adequately cleaning the surface. Under the forceful spray, hundreds of delaminated paint chips and loose chunks of stucco were expunged from the exterior wall. As fortune would have it, winds shooting through the inter-building vortex carried the waste artifacts far afield. Unsuspecting Playa del Mar poolgoers were suddenly deluged by construction debris. The project ground to a halt.

    Regency Tower Paint Project Timeline
    Regency Tower Paint Project Timeline
    To retain project momentum, the contractor approved a change in the north side strategy - relocating the crew to the west side of the north face with directions to work their way east. The sizable distance from the northwest corner of the building to the Playa del Mar pool precluded an embarrassing repeat of the earlier mishap. As the crew moved east along the north side of the structure, Contractor Gary Hricko secured a functional catchment net capable of managing the wind-propelled debris. When the crew closed in on the area proximal to the PDM pool, they exercised extreme caution when spraying the wall. After meticulously pressure cleaning the northeast corner area, deploying the net when appropriate and adjusting the hose to better direct debris toward the deck, they were out of the woods. The crew turned the northeast corner and completed the remaining north half of the eastern (ocean-facing) exterior wall.

    Overcrowded Stack 11 Unit
    Collyer Moves to Stack Eleven
    When the debris problem surfaced, stack 11 residents faced a dilemma. Brought indoors as requested, their balcony furnishings were clogging up living rooms, walk-in closets, bathrooms, etc. Prepared for the temporary inconvenience experienced by the residents of every other stack being addressed, they anticipated holing up for perhaps a few weeks. When the project was relocated, some returned their furnishings to the balcony, knowing they would have to remove them again when the crews returned. Others bit the bullet, and lived in
    Collyer's Mansion for two months.

    Those of you who have been following the project, either by direct observation or by reviewing posted updates, are aware that the contractor adjusted expeditiously when confronted by potential setbacks. By providing his crews with effective on-site supervision and reacting quickly to unforeseen obstacles, Hricko averaged less than two weeks for each stack. When stalled by dangerously unacceptable wind speeds, Hricko transferred personnel to one of the perimeter walls or planters, thereby making progress with some of the less exposed contract responsibilities. By shifting his staff accordingly, Hricko turned prospective setbacks into opportunities. As a result of his applying this strategy religiously, by the time the exterior walls were finished, he had also completed 99% of the mostly grade-level low risk work (lower driveway walls, perimeter walls, planters, rooftop parapets and mechanical room, etc. - none of which required scaffolding access). At an early planning meeting, Hricko responded to a question about the project timetable by asserting that although the job could take three months if blessed with perfect weather and no shutter or tile removals, we should double that to frame a realistic estimate. In fact, he wrapped it up in five and a half months.

    Stephen Collins
    Beautification Chair
    Stephen Collins
    Following completion of the paint project, our newly reconstituted Beautification Committee strapped up and got busy. The new canopy over our garage complements our building's new skin. Those of you in residence have probably noticed that our streetfront signage has also been freshly painted to better match the new building colors. To help dispel the similarity that most garage entrances bear to bat-filled caves or underground toxic waste dumps, the committee painted the long-neglected Receiving Room, somewhat relieving the area of its uninviting industrial ambiance. Chaired by Stephen Collins, the committee also draws on the proven aesthetic sensitivities of graphic designer Liz Urbano, who beautifully transformed our hallways and Fern McBride, whose choice of building colors was overwhelmingly approved in a members' referendum.

    Fern McBride
    Fern McBride
    When you next traverse the lobby, you will notice that a "test" column has been distinguished from the other drab beige unicolor columns by a newly highlighted trim. Using in-house resources and paint products residual to the paint project, the committee's efforts to date were realized on a shoestring. By protectively coating the concrete deck furniture with paint left from the project, Board President Dee Lanzillo and our maintenance personnel have improved its appearance while adding years to its useful life. While initially focusing on upgrades free of fiscal impact, the Beautification Committee is planning more extensive lobby improvements. Since it is closely confronted by everyone entering our home and is repeatedly disparaged by unit owners as conveying a first impression of creeping decay, they will hopefully include refurbishing the 40-year old, badly dilapidated reception desk.

    Liz Urbano
    Design Whiz
    Liz Urbano
    A post-project observation: One resident recently conjectured that the project was inappropriately timed, given the economic downturn. Firstly, we would have to implement a full association vote to circumvent the requirement in our association documents that mandates painting the building every ten years (last painted in 1999 - 2000 by Aqua-Shield). Secondly, the expense of the project grows with time, increasing in proportion to the accelerating deterioration. The rate of deterioration noticeably picks up 6 to 8 years after being painted. While we didn't see significantly increased infiltration (primarily because we negotiated a FREE interim rehabilitation 5 years ago to patch the ocean-facing east wall and the rooftop mechanical room - the building's most vulnerable surfaces), we did see increasing concrete and stucco deterioration on every wall and many balconies. Following substantial concrete repairs to a ground-level structural column abutting the north parking deck four years ago, engineer John Evans identified cumulative infiltration as the root cause.

    Board President Dee Lanzillo
    Board President
    Dee Lanzillo
    Over the last two years, the effects of diminishing protection have resulted in chunks of concrete falling from the roof and several balconies as well as cracks on the exterior wall opening along joints and structural frames with increasing frequency. As pointed out by our contractor, an accurate indication of the state of protection afforded by the aging coats of paint was reflected by the amount of delamination experienced when pressure cleaned. When each stack was pressure cleaned and scraped in preparation for patching cracks and primer application, the deck below was literally covered with paint chips and stucco mixed with bits of concrete and cement. The excessive delamination was incontestable evidence of the failure of the existing paint protection to adequately adhere to the wall, a precursor to advanced deterioration. Many of you probably recall seeing a similar condition at Galt Ocean Club, where their engineer's evaluation of advanced peeling on the underside of the rooftop overhang and exterior walls prompted a building-wide concrete rehabilitation.

    Concrete Spall leads to Crack
    Concrete Spall
    leads to Crack
    Digitized Projection
    Digitized Projection
    Was on the Money!
    Hricko informed us that within another year, we would have experienced heavy delamination on every wall followed by significantly more serious structural cracks and spalling. Our consultant from Benjamin Moore said that the bids would have come in 50 to 60% higher had the building deteriorated so ostensibly. As minor cracks develop into structural defects, repair costs increase exponentially. To confirm this, ask members of Ocean Club or Commodore about the comparative costs of minor patching vs. concrete rehabilitation. Additionally, despite the recent improvement in real estate sales statistics, most associations remain concerned about the prospective proliferation of non-contributing foreclosures. Many local real estate professionals have maintained that Regency Tower's negligible foreclosure rate is one of the lowest in Broward County primarily due to a decade of administrative and operational efficiencies translating into lower maintenance charges. However, the building's appearance assumes a heightened relevance when competing for fewer buyer dollars. In short, nobody wants to buy into a deteriorating dump!

    While Construction Committee members Eric Berkowitz and Ron Forment helped facilitate the paint project, Building Manager Dott Nicholson-Brown road herd on the paint crews every day for five and a half months and Board President Dee Lanzillo coordinated maintenance staff activities with those of the paint crews to expedite the project. We are also grateful to the dozens of other residents who made useful contributions and suggestions in response to project demands. Our heartfelt thanks to one and all. Notwithstanding, every Regency Tower resident can take a deep breath, secure in the knowledge that they won't be inconvenienced by paint crews again until 2019!

    That's all, folks!

    Rounding the Three Quarter Mark

    Paint Project heads into Final Phase

    Regency Tower Manager Dott Nicholson-Brown
    R.T. Manager Dott
    Nicholson-Brown
    August 22, 2009 - The beat goes on. Since moving the north side aspect of the paint project to the westernmost part of our home, the crews have been working their way east. After turning the northwest corner, stacks 7 and 8 were addressed in short order despite the cat and mouse precipitation that intermittently stalled progress. During several "time outs" called in response to high winds, the crews made their way to the roof, where they prepped, patched, primed and painted the entire interior roof wall, the exterior parapet trim as well as the rooftop mechanical room that houses our elevator equipment and control computers. As to "time outs" imposed by rain and/or borderline humidity, Manager Dott Nicholson-Brown continues to play a critical role in fueling project momentum by using an unusual yet effective tactic.

    Whenever she notices rain, Dott chases down the project supervisor or one of the crew chiefs. She will start discussing some marginally relevant issue, continuing until the rain passes. When the wet weather abates, she sends the guys back to work, having deterred their “calling it a day” earlier. By implementing this intuitive strategy, casually known as the “Yenta Tactic”, Dott single-handedly reclaimed potentially lost work time that would have otherwise extended the project for weeks. When the rain “break” lasts more than a few minutes, she gently steers the discussion back to the office, where she can attend to other association business while verbally preoccupying her “captive audience.” Since these “ad hoc” meetings also serve to bring the Manager up to speed on any problems anticipated by the job supervisor or project manager, how they addressed previously discussed obstacles and any other issues that currently impact project progress, they replace the need for specifically scheduled progress meetings - thereby saving additional time which can instead be reallocated to advance the project. All told, the cumulative effects of the “Yenta Tactic” (patent pending) will cut the project time by at least a month.

    By August 21st, one crew was working on Stack 9 and the north side center section. If afforded reasonably dry weather, they expect to complete this “three quarter mark” by August 29th. Crews originally planned to commence Stack 10 preparations on Saturday, August 22nd, removing indicated shutters, pressure cleaning surfaces and patching any uncovered cracks, holes and/or defects through which water could infiltrate.

    After the preparations started, the job supervisor extended the Stack 10 preparations to include the Stack 11 master bedroom drop. Drawing on experience gleaned from the south side of the building, the supervisor opted to “jump start” the large expanse between the Stack 10 and Stack 11 balconies. On Monday, August 24th, full blown Stack 11 preparations begin. Stack 11 is the project’s “Big Mama”. It includes three large window drops on the north side, a double drop wrap-around balcony and turning the northeast corner to complete the northern half of the east-facing wall, boding two more window drops. In addition, when they pressure clean the exterior wall, special attention must be paid to avoid spreading debris to the Playa del Mar pool deck.

    Following completion of the south side and the building entrance, it was originally planned to jump to the north side and mirror the strategy successfully used on the south side - starting on the easternmost part of the north face and working west - directionally consistent with the unusually strong on-shore winds. As usual, we celebrated the heavy fallout of excised debris when power washing the 11 Stack. Unfortunately, winds carried the flying paint chips, dislodged caulk blocks and chunks of loose stucco past the north parking deck - ultimately raining down on our neighbors futilely trying to enjoy the Playa del Mar pool. We quickly reversed the planned completion route, moving the crews to the westernmost side of the north face and bidding them work their way east. As they rebooted the project, a net was created to catch debris ancillary to the high-pressure power wash. Since the device must be attached and dismantled for each drop overlooking the Playa del Mar pool deck, Stack 11 preparations will carry a premium in both time and effort.

    More to come...

    Project Snag at Stack 11

    Paint Chips Rain on PDM Pool!

    July 26, 2009 - On Friday, July 24th, the Paint Project personnel wrapped up business on the south side of Regency Tower, completing the south-facing wall of the 6 stack. Simultaneously, another crew was making progress on the building front, completing preparations on the adjacent west-facing wall of the 6 stack. Several crews have been working in tandem to benefit from the arguably dry weather, albeit brutally hot and humid. Unfortunately, the crew preparing the 11 stack was gored by the horns of a dilemma.

    New Playa del Mar Manager Paul Swan
    New PDM Manager
    Paul Swan
    Playa del Mar Pool
    Playa del Mar Pool
    As planned, when the contractor reached the westernmost part of the south side, one crew would turn the Southwest corner and proceed with the building front while another would return to the easternmost part of the building's north side and complete preparations for stack 11. The plan was to mirror the strategy used on the south side, starting at the east side and working west along the north side of the building - directionally consistent with the strong winds. Shortly after the crew working at the 11 stack commenced power washing the exterior wall, Playa del Mar Management personnel contacted the Regency Tower building office. After apologizing for bringing us bad news, they explained that paint chips blasted off the building while power washing the 11 stack were raining down on the Playa del Mar swimming pool!

    Work on the 11 stack was immediately halted. To keep all crews working, they were transferred to the west side of the building and tasked with preparing the north side of the 7 stack - far from the Playa del Mar pool. Until this unfortunate construction glitch is resolved by the contractor, the crew assigned to the north side will now work its way east. Building Manager Dott Nicholson-Brown immediately issued a building notice to unit owners explaing the change in strategy. As per the manager's notice, crews next focused on shutter removal and power washing along the stack 7 exterior wall. By Monday, September 27th, shutter removal and power washing commenced on stack 8.

    General Douglas MacArthur
    MacArthur
    The contractor's quick adjustment to the dilemma prevented the glitch from appreciably delaying the project timetable. We would like to apologize, however, to stack 11 owners, many of whom (like myself) are patiently tolerating a living room filled with balcony furniture! Thank you for your laudable temperance. As explained to several stack 11 unit owners that called about the change, the contractor is working diligently on resolving the problem. Emulating General Douglas MacArthur's promise upon his forced evacuation from the Philippines, contractor Gary Hricko similarly assures stack 11 residents, declaring, "I WILL RETURN!"

    More to come...

    Comin' Round the Bend!
    Paint Project Winds up Work on South Side

    Regency Tower Turns SE Corner
    Project Turns SE Corner
    July 12, 2009 - On Monday, July 13th, the Paint Project personnel will officially turn the Southeast corner of our home and prepare to tackle the west-facing building entrance. As of Saturday, July 11th, stacks 1 through 4 on the South side of Regency Tower were complete. If we benefit from cooperative weather, the painters anticipate putting the final touches on stacks 5 and 6 by the end of the upcoming week (July 17th).

    As work on the South side wends its way towards a successful culmination, the contractor will commence power washing the front entrance and the drive-through's protective Portico. Accordingly, the Front Entrance doors will temporarily be OFF LIMITS and LOCKED! Alternative entry and egress will be available via the north and south lobby doors, as well as through the garage. Mirroring the strategy implemented on the south side, the north side of the building will be painted from east to west - directionally consistent with the strong winds. The project will therefore return to the 11 stack on Thursday, July 16th to kick off painting and waterproofing the structure's north side. Although the east-facing side of the 11 stack was completed at the project's outset, stack 11 unit owners should prepare for shutter removal and power washing on the north side exterior wall. Closing windows with northern exposures and removing balcony furnishings is recommended. Residents inhabiting units in stacks 10 and 9 should plan following suit in short order.

    Those of you in residence during the past few months have doubtless noticed the significant profusion of paint chips and stucco flakes on the deck. Although this unavoidable construction debris is swept up and disposed of daily, it is an excellent indication of how thoroughly the target surfaces are being prepared. The inadequate removal of dirt, blisters, degraded stucco and flaking paint is one of the primary causes of project failure when repainting a building. Contractors that superficially clean and prepare the surface risk leaving layers of old paint and pulverized masonry mixed with dirt that will soon peel, delaminating the freshly applied coating as well. The intensive power washing and hand scraping performed by the paint crews are integral to safeguarding Regency Tower from such a fate.

    Despite the exasperating and shameful conduct by a couple of Regency Tower guests that precipitated the premature termination of our arrangement with Playa del Mar, we would like to thank the scores of Regency Tower residents and guests who behaved in an exemplary manner and treated our host with courtesy and respect. The extent to which a few individuals repeatedly abused the hospitality exhibited by Playa del Mar's residents and staff is a source of embarrassment and deep regret. As such, we sent a letter to Playa del Mar residents, board members, administration and staff expressing our gratitude for their benevolent accommodation, our sincere apologies for the repugnant and reprehensible incidents and our abiding appreciation for their understanding and forebearance.

    More to come...

    Pool Rehabilitation
    New Diamond Brite Coating and Non-Skid Coping Stain

    Regency Tower Pool Rehab
    Regency Tower Pool Rehab
    June 12, 2009 - On June 11th, Advanced Pools commenced rehabilitating the Regency Tower Swimming Pool. The job entails resurfacing the interior with a new Diamond Brite coating. Prior to recoating the pool floor and walls, they prep the surface and apply a bonding agent. On the edges of the pool steps, new non-skid cap tiles are being installed. A broken light fixture is being replaced and the Statute-mandated drain cover is being affixed. As you may recall, a law was passed last year requiring pools with certain drainage evacuation configurations to be fitted with protection against swimmers being trapped by powerful and potentially unrelenting drain suction.

    The coping that lines the pool perimeter will be stained with a skid resistant product designed to enhance traction. Essentially, sand is mixed with the stain prior to being painted onto the coping surface. The pool must be filled with water immediately following the Diamond Brite application to prevent "sun cracking", wherein overheating interferes with the normal curing process. By introducing the water through two specialized filters, the new surface is protected from contamination. The area will then be thoroughly power-washed and scrubbed. Once the pool is filled with filtered water, it will be chemically balanced in preparation for the grand opening. If blessed with good weather, the entire process can be completed within a week!

    The painting teams are also making progress, despite the continuing wet weather. Stack 1 is finished and Stack 2 will be finished on Monday, June 15th when the last few untiled balcony floors are waterproofed. The window drop in Stack 3 is complete and the balcony drop will also commence on Monday. After sealing some defects on Monday, the Stack 4 shutter removal team will move to Stack 5 next week. Prior to the move, Stacks 5 and 6 will undergo pressure cleaning by mid-week. The contractor has recaptured some of the time lost to inclement weather by working on weekends and holidays (they worked on Memorial Day!) While Playa del Mar personnel report few problems with our residents, they have asked us to remind you that their beach furniture is not to be used or disturbed for any purpose. Regency Tower residents entering the beach through Playa del Mar must walk a few steps to the Regency Tower beach. Those of you renting cabanas or cabana space can use them since they are prepared and erected each day by staff! Under no circumstances is anyone permitted to use Playa del Mar's chairs, umbrella's or lounges located on the beach. If you want any of these appurtenances, please bring your own! Don't forget to thank our wonderful neighbors in Playa del Mar for their ongoing hospitality! More to come...

    Stacks 3 and 4
    Prepare for Shutter Removal and Power Wash

    May 30, 2009 - On May 30th, shutter removal begins for Stacks 3 and 4. The contractor will also pressure clean the two stacks in preparation for sealing and priming. All Stack 3 and 4 unit owners must remove items from their balconies and close windows prior to pressure cleaning (the pressure cleaning process simulates a moderate rainfall).

    Above all - Stack 3 and 4 unit owners who wish to retain their shutters must verify their operability. They need to be opened and closed TWICE during the painting process. If you are unable to easily open and close your shutters through several cycles, you must enlist the assistance of some vendor with experience in shutter maintenance and have them rehabilitated and returned to full functionality (Click Here for several shutter repair and maintenance vendors). If the contractor encounters non-functional shutters, they will be removed at the owner's expense. Additionally, the costs of any "Change Orders" stemming from shutter-related delays will be borne by the negligent unit owner, not the entire membership.

    There are several different painting teams, each charged with certain tasks. One is painting the window drops of Stack 1 while another is completing the defect sealing on Stack 2. A third will begin the Stacks 3 and 4 preparations. Which teams are activated each day depends primarily the weather. We try to squeeze progress out of every clear sky. In order to make up some time lost to inclement weather and shutter problems, the contractor is working on weekends and holidays (weather permitting). One lessee who asked why we couldn't open the beach access on weekends was under the mistaken impression that no work was being done over the weekend. NOT SO! While we are pushing hard to complete the entire job, we are especially concerned about completing the Stacks 1 and 2 areas. Once clear of the those areas, we can effect the pool repairs (which includes installing the new drain cover required by statute) and reopen our pool and beach egress. BY THE WAY - after checking with Playa del Mar, they report almost no problems with our residents, characterizing them as "well-behaved and courteous." PLEASE NOTE: They don't allow children in the pool with diapers unless they are health-department approved swim diapers! We would like to thank those Regency Tower residents who use the Playa facilities for their sterling behavior as well as their patience. We also want to thank our wonderful neighbors in Playa del Mar for their timely hospitality. We won't forget!

    SUMMARY: STACKS 3 AND 4 UNIT OWNERS - If you want to keep your shutters, you must see to it that they work! PLEASE - CHECK THEM AND, IF NECESSARY, FIX THEM! (Click Here for several shutter repair and maintenance vendors). PLEASE - take your balcony furniture in. PLEASE - close your windows during the power wash (unless you ordinarily leave them open when it rains). THANK YOU! More to come...

    Stack 1 Balconies Complete
    Stack 2 Shutters Removed

    May 23, 2009 - We are pleased to announce that the entire east side of the building is finished! The eastern face of Regency Tower is the most environmentally sensitive side of the structure, given its oceanfront location. While we can appreciate the aesthetic improvement that accompanies a fresh coat of paint, the main benefit to this accomplishment derives from plugging the thousands of cracks, holes and defects and waterproofing our home's most vulnerable exposure.

    Dee Lanzillo Addresses Shutter Problems
    Thanks Dee!
    Thanks to President Dee Lanzillo, we are finally starting to "get ahead" of the shutter-related delays. As reported earlier, dozens of residents who initially indicated that they wanted to keep their old non-compliant shutters changed their mind after the deadline and pleaded for their removal, many after the contractor's scaffold already passed by their shuttered windows. Also, most of those shutters weren't operational. Evidently, unit owners that neglected to arrange for shutter maintenance hadn't tried to open or close their shutters since the last storm threat a few years ago (remember Ernesto?). After learning about this problem, one unit owner informed a maintenance employee that "You won't have a problem with our shutters, I was able to close them." She neglected to mention that she hadn't tried to open them. Of course, the contractor lost more precious time. As explained earlier, they must be opened and closed at least twice (once for prime and patch and again to paint).

    Our promise that this unacceptable confusion would stop precluded the contractor from submitting a "change order" for the additional work. Notices were sent to Unit Owners that they must insure the operability of their shutters if they wanted to retain them. The office also provided members with contact information for companies that repair and maintain these antique shutters. To expedite the project, President Lanzillo and Manager Dott Nicholson-Brown dispatched maintenance personnel to verify shutter viability for shuttered units in the next stack.

    The unusually severe winds and intermittent rainfalls continue to delay our timetable. Obviously, the scaffold cannot be used in high winds. The rain presents a different problem. The elasteromeric weatherproofing requires at least 4 hours to functionally dry. During this period, rain or high humidity can undermine the paint's adhesive qualities, requiring a second application. Every morning, if the weather is threatening, we ask the painters to stick around, opining that the sun will pop out soon. If that doesn't work, we shamelessly beg them to wait an hour or two before packing it in. Despite the ominous overcast exhibited at the onset of each day of the past week, the strategy produced 3 and a half productive days. Weather permitting, they also agreed to work on Memorial Day.

    Progess continues on the south side. Now that all of the Stack 1 balconies are complete, the focus will turn to the windows. After power washing Stack 2, the contractor removed all of the Stack 2 shutters as requested by unit owners.

    STACKS 2 AND 3 UNIT OWNERS: If you want to keep your shutters, you must see to it that they work! Dozens of residents have registered their strong objection to the prospect of being financially penalized because some unit owners didn't check that their shutters are operational. WE AGREE! If your shutters don't open and close as required, not only will they be removed at your expense, any related "change orders" submitted by H & H Painting for extra-contractual delays will be passed to YOU. PLEASE - CHECK THEM AND, IF NECESSARY, FIX THEM! (Click Here for several shutter repair and maintenance vendors). Thank You! More to come...

    Frozen Shutters Cause Delays!
    Stack 2 Ready for Power Wash

    May 7, 2009 - "The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men Gang aft agley." When he recycled Robert Burns' apology to a "tim'rous beastie" for destroying its "wee bit housie", John Steinbeck wanted "Of Mice and Men" to reflect how Murphy's Law is a universal constant (Murphy's Law - Whatever CAN go wrong WILL go wrong). By carefully monitoring the project, we are positioned to address problems as they arise in hopes of resolving them before they increase costs or inconvenience. Since the inception of the Regency Tower Paint Project, Murphy has thrown us two unexpected curve balls. The unusually severe seasonal winds were the first unanticipated impediment.

    When wind speed exceeds operational safety limits for utilizing the scaffold, work on the main structure is delayed. As per an understanding arrived at during a pre-project meeting, when the painting plan is disrupted by "inclement" weather, the contractor redirects his personnel to perform other tasks that can safely be addressed. When precluded from using the scaffold last week, the contractor instead pressure washed, prepared and patched cracks on the south perimeter wall. When wind-driven safety concerns ground the swing-stage, Contractor Gary Hricko will again redeploy staff to areas such as the north and south deck perimeter walls, the lower driveway walls and the planters. However, once these areas are completed, each day that is additionally lost to high winds will extend the Project by one day - prolonging the inconvenience for everyone.

    Hurricane Shutters - Closed as Required
    Hurricane Shutters - Closed as Required
    About two weeks into the project, Murphy made a second appearance. When the old-style hurricane shutters are left open, they cover the exterior wall on either side of the shuttered window. Since the painters must have full access to that wall behind the open shutter, we asked that unit owners close their shutters when work on their stack was imminent, thereby exposing the entire wall. Of course, the issue was moot for residents that arranged for removal of their shutters. Residents that opted to keep their shutters, however, must be able to open and close them at least twice. After the wall behind the shutters is patched and primed, the shutters must be opened to expose the window's exterior frame, which must also be patched and primed. The process must be repeated for the application of paint. When residents in the number one stack were called and issued a polite reminder to do so, MURPHY ARRIVED! One response went as follows - "%$&%@(*$)}@! - THEY'RE STUCK! WE CAN'T CLOSE THE &#$@%(&$@!&*# HURRICANE SHUTTERS!" Other colorful variations ensued.

    Open hurricane shutters block exterior wall
    Open Hurricane
    Shutters Block
    Exterior Wall
    To maintain their functionality, shutters must be regularly serviced by a company or an individual with the appropriate equipment and expertise. These maintenance visits, usually twice each year, can be part of a pre-arranged service contract or initiated by appointment. The pre-code shutters are mechanical dinosaurs fitted with delicate parts precariously pieced together. If they aren't properly lubricated and cycled (opened and closed), the bicycle chain responsible for moving the panels can rust in place within months. If this occurs, the crank will not turn and the panels will not move. If forced, the chain can break, allowing the crank to turn without effect. Alternatively, if the mechanism is completely frozen, the crank will be morphed into a twizzle stick when forced.

    Click to All Weather Control Web Site While we are NOT responsible for delays caused by the weather, we ARE responsible for delays caused by our residents. We are obligated to provide the painter with full access to areas to be painted. When the contractor sustains a financial loss from delays caused by residents' inability to open and close their neglected shutters and provide unobstructed access to the target wall and/or the exterior window frame, he has grounds to pass that loss to the association. Another source of shutter-related delays is threatening to increase project costs. Evidently, the immediacy of witnessing the scaffold pass by their windows has prompted some residents to belatedly request shutter removal. After receiving assurances that these unreasonable requests and project obstacles would not continue, the contractor reset the scaffolding drops and fulfilled the late requests without penalty.

    Click to All Broward Hurricane Web Site Inasmuch, DO NOT WAIT TO TEST YOUR SHUTTERS! DO IT ASAP! If they don't work - you have two options. You can either contact a shutter servicing company to perform maintenance on the shutters and restore lost functionality OR have them removed. To remove the shutters, call H&H Painting immediately at 954-757-8200! Several local companies that rehabilitate hurricane shutters are:

    All Weather Control Inc.
    4837 Pembroke Road
    Hollywood, FL 33021
    Phone: (954) 364-4943
    Toll Free: (800) 432-3714
    Fax: (954) 921-1645
    Email: shutters@gate.net
    Red Oaks Shutter Inc.
    221 S.W. 5th CT.
    Pompano Beach, FL 33060
    Phone: (954) 782-9325
    Fax: (954) 782-2890
    Email: Office@redoaksshutter.com
    All Broward Hurricane
    450 West McNab Road
    Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309
    Phone: (954) 974-3300
    Toll Free: (800) 250-2182
    Toll Free: (866) 610-0555
    Fax: (954) 973-3928

    Click to Red Oaks Shutter Web Site In addition to expecting a high quality painting and waterproofing result, we are also committed to bringing this project in on budget and on schedule. To avoid risking an inconvenient prolongation of the project, we've asked the contractor to work on Saturdays, thereby recapturing some of the time lost to delays caused by Mother Nature, indecisive residents and uncooperative antique shutters.

    Starting Monday, May 11th, stack number 2 will be power washed. Stack 2 residents should start bringing in the balcony furnishings (take in the delicate items over the weekend) and close all windows. Since wind-blown projectiles can still hit anywhere on the pool deck from the scaffold while stack two is prepared and painted, the pool area and beach egress will remain closed until the project moves to stack 3. Regency Tower residents and guests are welcome to use the pool facilities at (and access the beach from) Playa del Mar in the interim. Click Here for details!

    Regency Tower Pool and
    Beach Access to be Closed!

    Pool Deck Closed
    Severe Winds Close Pool Deck
    April 24, 2009 - During a Thursday afternoon inspection on April 23rd, paint contractor Gary Hricko pointed out that the severity of recent onshore winds passing between Regency Tower and Galt Ocean Club have created an unexpected threat to residents in the pool area. He observed that anything blown off the scaffold while hovering above the Number One Stack could become a deadly projectile capable of landing anywhere on the pool deck. Basing his judgment on years of experience painting buildings along the Galt Mile, Hricko advised, "The only way to insure the safety of your residents and guests is to close the pool deck and access to the beach while the first and second stacks are being painted." While it is impossible to determine exactly how long it will take to complete the two stacks (don't forget - scheduled shutter removals precede the painting), Gary Hricko roughly estimated one month. Since the beach egress is on the other side of the danger zone, walking to the beach gate also presents an unacceptable risk.

    Egress Closed and Gate Locked
    Egress Closed and Gate Locked
    We originally planned to close that part of the pool deck directly under the swing stage, leaving the southern side of the pool and pool deck accessible. In view of Hricko's revised evaluation of the threat posed by a wind-driven paint bucket, portable paint tools, disassembled shutter parts, chemicals used for patch repairs and the paint itself, we were forced to close the area constituting a danger zone. After the H & H Painting proprietor delivered the bad news, we sought to arrange an alternative for Regency Tower beach and pool enthusiasts. In addition to our regular pool-goers, visiting snowbirds planning to use the pool and beach during a "mini-vacation" would be extremely disappointed - especially those accompanied by family and/or friends.

    Playa del Mar Manager Sam Aponte
    PDM Manager
    Sam Aponte
    Playa del Mar Pool
    Playa del Mar Pool
    We reached out to our neighbors - north and south. In the past, we have helped one another when construction problems impacted access to parking, swimming pools and the beach. While Galt Ocean Club (our neighbor to the south) and Playa del Mar (our neighbor to the north) both agreed to help, Playa del Mar has a much larger (and beautiful) pool and an expansive luxurious pool deck. Aware of our longstanding tradition of mutually assisting one another, Playa del Mar Manager Sam Aponte secured permission to allow our residents and guests use of the Playa del Mar pool in addition to providing access to the beach!

    This is how it works: Regency Tower residents and guests wishing to use the pool or beach will have to walk next door and enter through the Playa del Mar main entrance.
    3 Minute Walk to Playa del Mar
    3 Minute Walk to Playa del Mar
    Upon arriving at the security desk, simply announce that you are a Regency Tower resident interested in using the pool or beach. You will be escorted to the pool area or the beach. For those seeking access to the beach, their security will open the beach gate. Once on the beach, Regency Tower residents must continue to the Regency Tower beach, which is just a few steps from the Playa beach. When you've had enough sun and fun, simply return the way you came. At the Playa del Mar beach gate, use the intercom to inform Playa security that you are a Regency Tower resident and would like to leave. Playa security will dispatch a guard to escort you from the gate and back to the main entrance. Since the Regency Tower egress will be closed from the beach, you must go through Playa del Mar (again traversing the Playa del Mar pool deck, into the building and out the Main Entry). No Muss - No Fuss - no bureaucratic paperwork! Don't forget to thank them for their hospitality when leaving!

    Their rules are very similar to ours. If you plan to use the Playa pool, please remember that we are their guests. Children must be closely supervised at all times. When using the pool after visiting the beach, please see that the kids shower (clean off the sand) before returning to the pool deck. If you are accompanied by teenagers, you will be responsible for their behavior! Our understanding with Playa del Mar is subject to one intransigent rule - if the Playa residents or staff perceives an abuse of their hospitality, it will terminate - for everyone! If anyone in your party has any "special needs", please contact Eric Berkowitz to arrange with the Playa staff to provide for them. Otherwise - HAVE A WONDERFUL TIME!

    Many Thanks to our wonderful neighbors in
    Playa del Mar!

    Regency Tower Paint Project Starts

    April 8, 2009 - On Saturday, March 28th, contract negotiations with H & H Painting to paint and waterproof the building were finalized. In addition to the weather, the project start date was subject to several factors. We were awaiting receipt of the completed color selection ballots sent to each unit owner which were due by April 3rd. By the way, those of you that opted for painting the building Jumel Peachtone and Metallic Gold - See Below - won by an impressive two to one plurality. April 10th is the date by which residents were admonished to inform the contractor and/or the office about removing unwanted storm shutters and/or balcony tiles. Unit owners that fail to notify the contractor by the due date risk facing significantly increased costs for these incremental jobs once the project is underway. PROCRASTINATORS - CALL H&H PAINTING TODAY IF INTERESTED (954-757-8200)!

    Project Start Date: April 13th

    Digitized Projection
    Digitized Composite Projection
    On Wednesday, April 8th, the Construction Committee convened a meeting with the Paint Project principles in preparation for the upcoming effort. The meeting was attended by Gary Hricko (proprietor of contract bid winner H&H Painting), paint consultant Jack Findlan (proprietor of paint distributor Reliance Paint), Committee members Eric Berkowitz and Ron Forment and Building Manager Dott Nicholson-Brown. We agreed to kick off the 4-month project on Monday, April 13th. (OK, Kathie - you were right!)

    While many of you are aware that Hricko participated in the Regency Tower Hallways renovation (painting the walls) and his experience painting buildings along the Barrier Island (and the Galt Mile in particular) is extensive and well-referenced, Gary's H&H Painting actually painted Regency Tower in the 1980s. His familiarity with the building, inside and out, will help insure that critical details are adequately addressed.

    The project will start on the east side of the building, extending around the southeast corner to include the entire Number 1 Stack. The first order of business will be to remove the shutters from those units in the number one stack whose owners made the appropriate pre-construction arrangements with the contractor. After removing the shutters and patching any resulting holes or cracks, H&H will power wash the east side of the building (facing the ocean), continuing around the southeast corner all the way to the upper patio deck, administering a thorough cleaning to the entire number one stack. When asked if stack one unit owners should prepare for the power wash, Hricko likened the effect to a mild to moderate rainfall. Nevertheless, unit owners in the eleven stack should close all windows facing east and stack one unit owners should close all windows - PERIOD.

    As such, the time has come for Stack 1 unit owners to START REMOVING BREAKABLES from the balcony. While the contractor can dropcloth balcony elements, it is obviously safer to remove balcony furnishings altogether. Additionally, IF YOUR BALCONY IS UNTILED, the balcony furniture MUST BE REMOVED TO ALLOW THE CONTRACTOR TO COAT THE BALCONY FLOOR WITH WATERPROOF PROTECTION! Also, hurricane shutters must be closed to allow the contractor to patch, prime and paint the area behind hurricane shutters. In their open state, they block that part of the exterior wall adjacent to the windows. Then the shutters must be opened to provide access to the sill and the interior area.

    Caution Tape Line across Pool Deck
    Pool Deck Caution Tape Line
    Following an application of primer, any cracks, holes and defects will be repaired and treated with an elasteromeric patch. In a process that appears to be counter-intuitive, the primer is applied before the cracks and defects are addressed to provide a viable substrate for the special patches that finalize the repairs. Only after the work area is washed, primed and patched, is the paint applied.

    A preliminary preparation plan was created to address the dual concerns of safety and convenience. Areas under the construction site will be coned and taped off to protect our residents. Additionally, landscaping and building elements below the work area will receive protective covering when appropriate (except where doing so actually endangers the plants by creating a heat sink). Although the area below the swing stage at the Number 1 stack must be cordoned off, the plan will still permit use of the southern part of the pool (the deep end) and the southern side of the pool deck. A caution tape delineating the danger area will run from the upper patio deck stairway handrail, span the pool and be affixed to the pool fence adjacent to the beach. Plenty of space will still be available on the pool deck to lounge, sun and have fun.

    Upcoming Pool Project
    Upcoming Pool Rehabilitation Project
    As you know, we are also preparing to rehabilitate our swimming pool. Once the area above the pool is painted, the pool rehabilitation can commence and run concurrently with the paint project, avoiding the inconvenience of implementing the projects consecutively. This is the primary rationale for starting at the stack that overlooks the pool area (number 1 stack). Citing the significant impact that onshore high winds have on an oceanfront paint project, Hricko indicated that the building should be painted from east to west, moving the swing stage alternatively between the north and south sides of the building as the project progresses.

    Regency Tower President Dee Lanzillo
    Dee
    At an earlier meeting, we arrived at a mutually beneficial understanding with Hricko. In exchange for providing him with on-site storage and setup areas, if unanticipated obstacles surfaced, he would aspire to lessen their impact. As such, Board President Dee Lanzillo escorted Hricko to the garage after the meeting and allocated space to facilitate the painter's setup preparations. This will stabilize the daily setup time and expedite the project. Time to roll up our sleeves and get to work!

    Notices will be posted before the contractor moves to the next stack. Check back here at your convenience to keep abreast of the project's progress.

    Building Paint Colors

    To make the process for selecting building colors for the upcoming Paint Project fully inclusive, a letter was sent to every member of the Regency Tower Association containing two computer enhanced pictures of Regency Tower representing the general appearance when painted with each of the two choices. See below to read the letter's specific content and view the two computer generated graphics (click on either graphic for a larger version). There is also a link that allows viewing both graphics simultaneously. Due to serious time constraints impacting successful completion of the project, your choice must be returned ASAP! Thanks!

    The Paint Choice Letter

    On advice of our attorney, we are polling the entire membership regarding the color choices for the painting of the Regency Tower building. Enclosed are two color choices:

    1. Jumel Peachtone with Metallic Gold down the center of the building.

    2. Monticello Rose with New London Burgundy down the center of the building.

    Please indicate your choice and return your decision in the envelope provided no later than April 3, 2009. Due to time constraints regarding the necessity to start the project, the Board has decided that the majority choice returned out of the total responses received will be the designated colors. Ex: If we only receive 50 and the choices are 26 for choice #1 and 24 for choice #2, choice #1 will be the color. So if you want your voice to be heard, be sure to respond by April 3, 2009.

    THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

    Building Paint Color Choices

    The two graphics below are computer created projections that approximate how the building will appear when painted with the two available choice combinations.

     
    Choice Number 1
    Jumel Peachtone & Metallic Gold
    Choice Number 2
    Monticello Rose & New London Burgundy
    Click on Pic to Enlarge Click on Pic to Enlarge
     

    To see the two larger versionsside by side, Click Here (expand or maximize your window for full size).


    A Catastrophe in the Making

    Energy Generation By Fuel Type (Fla)
    Florida Energy Generation
    June 10, 2008 - On April 7th, a meeting of the Galt Mile Presidents Council was convened to inform Association officials about the planned placement of a
    Deepwater Port for the offloading of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) 7 to 10 miles from the densely populated Galt Mile beach. Representatives of SUEZ Energy North America, Inc. or SENA, developer of the “Calypso” project, were invited to explain the project variables and respond to questions raised by concerned community participants. SENA’s parent, SUEZ Energy International, is a subsidiary of SUEZ, a $73.2 billion (€47.5 billion) French conglomerate that addresses Public Utility needs for electricity, natural gas, energy services, water and waste management. Articles in the Galt Mile News and the Galt Mile Community Association web site that explained the project’s underlying rationale also elicited serious safety concerns by depicting the tragic consequences that plagued similar installations. The meeting was also attended by City Commissioner Christine Teel, who was instrumental in securing participation by project organizers. Changes in the laws governing LNG facility licensing procedures eliminated the requirement for local approval, making such meetings voluntary. The sponsors were afforded the opportunity to make an objective presentation with the understanding that association representatives would transmit what they learned to their association constituencies whose feedback would determine whether the project would encounter community support or opposition.

    Galt Mile Community Association Presidents Council
    Galt Mile Community Association Presidents Council
    The Suez North America representatives opened by explaining how the Calypso facility would help satisfy Florida’s growing demand for gas-fired electricity generation. The Calypso Deepwater Port (DWP) is a planned transfer station, enabling tankers carrying liquefied natural gas to dump their load, vaporize the liquid fuel into a gaseous state and send it through a pipeline (the Calypso pipeline) towards Port Everglades where it will be introduced into the Florida Gas Transmission Pipeline System for distribution across the region. Reminiscent of Florida’s dependence on oil during the 1970s, natural gas-fired energy is expected to comprise 45% of total energy generated in the state by 2015. The Calypso U.S. Pipeline is designed to supply 832,000 MMBtu of natural gas per day or two thirds of the incremental amount required to meet the state’s projected 2014 demand of 1.2 billion cubic feet per day (as estimated by the Florida Public Service Commission).

    Calypso Deepwater Port (DWP)
    Click Above to Enlarge View of Calypso Deepwater Port
    SUEZ project personnel described the operational components of the proposed regasification facility, stating, “The Calypso DWP is a submerged offloading buoy and anchoring system that will reside approximately 120 feet below the ocean surface when not in use and serve as an offshore delivery point for natural gas. The westernmost buoy (West Buoy) would be sited approximately 7.7 miles from shore in 805 feet of sea water (FSW) and would connect to the sea floor with eight mooring lines, using six suction piles and two gravity anchors. The easternmost buoy (East Buoy) would be sited approximately 10.3 miles from shore in 932 feet of sea water (FSW) and would connect to the sea floor with nine mooring lines, using six suction piles and three gravity anchors. Using the submerged unloading buoy system, the DWP will be capable of servicing two types of LNG vessels simultaneously; a storage and regasification ship (SRS) and a transport and regasification vessel (TRV).”

    Aftermath of the 2004 Algerian Natural Gas Disaster
    Aftermath of a 2004 Algerian
    Natural Gas Disaster - 27 Killed
    Referring to storyboards demonstrating that the project didn't interfere with the view from the beach, the SUEZ personnel opened the floor to questions. Having learned about some of the project dangers from articles on the GMCA web site, officials representing most of the member associations shared an interest in the aftereffects of igniting the gas and if the company could prevent such an explosive event, whether accidental or intentional. They were concerned about the corporate decision to locate the Deepwater Port directly opposite the heavily populated Galt Mile beach. Suez representative Brad Cooley exclaimed that the gas didn’t explode when ignited, but rather burst into flame. He stressed that an ignited gas cloud burned at fiercely hot temperatures, quickly incinerating almost anything caught in the conflagration. They situated the gas plant 7 to 10 miles from the beach to minimize the expected adverse impact to the hardbottom environment.
    Aftermath of the 1944 Cleveland Natural Gas Disaster
    Aftermath of the 1944 Cleveland Natural Gas Disaster
    When asked what measures had SUEZ planned to deter a terrorist attack, Suez' spokesperson Tom Allen said that the Coast Guard would protect the Port and offloading vessels. When a GMCA official expressed concern about the substantial volume of authoritative reports and studies that define LNG facilities as indefensible, the Suez spokespersons referred to the project environmental impact statement that described planned security measures. Questions about prospective terrorist infiltration and the potential catastrophic ignition of lethal gas (as occurred in Cleveland in 1944 and Skikda, Algeria in 2004) were answered with casual generalizations, leaving many in the audience with lingering concerns about these marginally addressed threats. Although unable to estimate the distance that an ignitable gas cloud could travel, Brad expressed confidence in the 7 mile “cushion” separating the facility from landfall. Association officials didn't share Brad's confidence.

    Aerial View of Riverfront Facility Destruction
    Aerial View of Riverfront Facility Destruction
    In the weeks following the meeting, the residual trepidations felt by many of the attending Council participants were imparted to friends and neighbors, spreading epidemically throughout almost every association. Galt Mile residents took the time and trouble to weigh claimed improvements to the State’s energy delivery system against the possible actualization of a mind-bending holocaust. Emails poured into the Galt Mile Community Association expressing fear and anger over being confronted by potential incineration. A set of exploratory links following an article about Calypso on the Association web site suddenly experienced an explosion of incremental hits. Galt Mile residents familiarized themselves with documented LNG disasters in other locations wherein the community was similarly assured that they were safe.

    Aftermath of the 1944 Cleveland Natural Gas Disaster
    131 Killed, 680 Left Homeless, 225 Injured
    Ominously, the first onshore LNG facility in America suffered a major accident, incinerating one square mile of Cleveland in 1944, killing 131 and leaving 680 people homeless. At least 27 people were killed and 72 injured when a 2004 explosive blaze ripped through a liquefied natural gas plant in Skikda, Algeria. Although initially attributed to a defective boiler, documentation presented by plant owner Sonatrach demonstrated that a large amount of liquid gas escaped from a pipe and formed a cloud of highly flammable and explosive vapor that hovered over the facility until ignited by an unknown flame source.

    Firefighters Retrieve one of 131 Corpses
    Firefighters Retrieve One of 131 Corpses
    In 1973, 40 Staten Island workers repairing an out-of-service LNG tank were incinerated when liquefied natural gas that had leaked through the tank liner into the surrounding soil and tank wall berm was ignited by a spark from one of the irons or vacuum cleaners used during the repair. Every one of the more than 2 dozen LNG incidents that occurred during the past 50 years was preceded by corporate assurances of adequate safety and security precautions. Not surprisingly, the second factor shared by these incidents is their corporate immunity to damages restitution. Through regulatory slight-of-hand, the governing laws provide the offending corporate perpetrator with a get-out-of-jail-free card, passing the fiscal punishment to the victims and their local governments.

    Click to December 2007 Government Accounting Office (GAO) Maritime Security report Casual review of the issue revealed an overwhelming body of authoritative evidence that these LNG facilities were high-value targets for terrorist strikes. Maritime Security Reports from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Congressional Research Service, Pentagon Studies, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) threat assessments and the White House Counterterrorism Unit join scores of independent studies that lament the vulnerability of these irresponsibly located gas plants. A December 2007 Report to Congress by the GAO (Government Accountability Office) exhorts that “the Coast Guard - the lead federal agency for Maritime Security - has insufficient resources to meet its own self-imposed security standards.”

    There is also a body of evidence substantiating that an ignitable vapor cloud can travel up to 30 miles, threatening dozens of local neighborhoods with extinction. In a 1982 Lovins & Lovins Pentagon study entitled Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security, Armed Forces Energy Directors in the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are apprised that the ignitable energy content of a typical 125,000 cubic meter LNG tanker is equivalent to seven-tenths of a megaton of TNT, or 55 Hiroshima bombs. The Galt Mile Community Association Advisory Board voted unanimously to oppose this project. Petitions were organized and distributed to every member building. While informing residents about the impending threat, GMCA engaged every local official in an effort to defeat Calypso.

    Click to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Unfortunately, the White House decided several years ago that the regulatory process for licensing energy facilities needed to be “fast-tracked”. To accomplish this, the public and all local governments - for the first time in history - were excluded from the licensing process for potentially dangerous facilities within their jurisdictions. Even State governments were rendered powerless as the sole power to decide where and how a facility will operate was vested into the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), a federal bureaucracy manned by former and current energy industry officials. A quirk in the law governing offshore energy facilities still allows the Governor of the adjacent state to VETO the project. The only human being in the State of Florida with the power to stop this recipe for disaster is Governor Charlie Crist.

    Commission Votes to Create Anti-Calypso Resolution
    City Commission Votes to Issue
    Resolution Opposing Calypso
    Not surprisingly, in the law created for this purpose, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (H.R. 6), for the $17,495,044 in direct contributions to key legislators and the $112,289,825 spread around by lobbyists, the Energy Industry bought $6 billion in Oil & Gas subsidies, $9 billion in Coal subsidies, $12 billion in Nuclear Power subsidies, $2 billion in Electric Power subsidies and across-the-board regulatory rollbacks exempting compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act. Laugh it up... half of these giveaways were incentives to build facilities that already existed. Finally, the Act codified the elimination of local licensing approval for LNG facilities. Based on discredited trickle down pipedreams, instead of lowering energy prices, allowing energy industry lobbyists to write the bill is having the predicted effect of sending fuel prices and energy costs through the roof.

    Representative Ellyn Bogdanoff and Senator Jeffrey Atwater
    Representative Ellyn Bogdanoff and Senator
    Jeffrey Atwater Contact Governor Crist
    Although the Fort Lauderdale City Commission has already issued a Resolution opposing the project and officials in neighboring communities are following suit, the key is Governor Crist. GMCA has enlisted the assistance of Senator Jeffrey Atwater and Representative Ellyn Bogdanoff to express our concerns to the Governor. As President-elect of the Florida Senate and Majority Whip in the Florida Statehouse, Atwater and Bogdanoff are in a unique position to effectively offset the nine high-powered SUEZ lobbyists working to approve this project below the radar. Having already drawn the Governor’s attention to our plight, the GMCA is currently compiling and transmitting pertinent information requested by Governor Charlie Crist. Along with the material he requested, the Governor will verify that this apolitical grassroots drive is not some political punching bag being exploited for campaign purposes. If he ascertains that this neighborhood outcry is a bi-partisan community effort, his predisposition to assigning a high priority to community concerns when weighing adverse impacts should send Suez back to the drawing board. However, attempts to politicize this controversy will send it to the Florida Public Service Commission, where approval will be rubber stamped. At a recent Suez-sponsored meeting in Dania, Galt Mile residents were joined by a bi-partisan coalition of local public officials, including City Commissioner Christine Teel, Broward Commissioner Ken Keechl, Senator Atwater, Representative Bogdanoff, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Mayor Roseann Minnet and many others pursuing the shared objective of eliminating this senseless threat.

    Of Course, we need your help. It is important that you understand what's at stake. There are several ways to accomplish this. A significant amount of information is available on the Galt Mile web site, including:

    You can also watch a 30-minute video that details the drawbacks of this project. To expedite familiarity with the issues we are being forced to face, several viewings will be arranged for Regency Tower residents in the Games Room or the Meeting Room. This video actually won some industry awards for its demonstrative effectiveness. When these viewings have been scheduled, notification will be posted in the lobby, on the character generator and right here on the Regency Tower web site. Snacks? ... well... we'll see...



    One Part Faith, Two Parts Elbow Grease!

    March 28, 2008 - We are pleased to announce that Unit 1701, an undervalued apartment acquired by exercising the Association’s “Right of First Refusal”, has been sold for $639,000. Immediately following the March 27th closing, the short term bridge financing that fueled the transaction was fully discharged and the residual profit deposited into the Association’s Money Market Account. We are equally pleased to report that the Board’s two strategic objectives were met. Adding almost $60,000 to the original $580,000 purchase price commensurately increased the value of every unit. As a secondary benefit, realized profit will help pay association expenses, lowering everyone’s assessment.

    Eight years ago, the Regency Tower Board of Directors made a commitment to proactively support the value of our homes. Units comparatively undervalued for non-heritable reasons depressed the value of every unit in the building. Exempting non-impactive “intra-family” transactions, the Board decided to investigate the basis for substantial undervaluations when reviewing proposed sales. By exercising our Right of First Refusal to purchase and subsequently sell the undervalued unit for its true worth, the value of every unit in the building was proportionately bolstered. Assessments were abated by plowing profits back into the association’s bottom line.

    Over a seven year period, the Board exercised the Right of First Refusal four times, lowering maintenance costs by about $340,000 while propping up unit values. In each case, the Board solicited authoritative input from Real Estate professionals to help realistically measure risk against the prospective benefits. Since assessment funds were never used to promulgate the strategy, short-term bridge rollovers were fully reimbursed at the respective closings, precluding any budgetary loose ends.

    Treasurer Bill Tennenbaum Reported Sales at Budget Meetings
    Bill Tennenbaum
    Reported Sales at
    Budget Meetings
    The transactional benefits were documented in the annual budgets and explained at the budget meetings to clarify where the incremental resources were spent. Although members overwhelmingly expressed appreciation and support for the repeatedly successful strategy, a small minority of owners with ideological objections or conflicting financial interests questioned whether saving every unit owner thousands of dollars was an appropriate undertaking for the Board.

    As you are doubtless aware, we recently held our annual elections. While we are pleased by the enthusiasm with which several unit owners sought to campaign for their respective candidates, some of the campaign rhetoric tended to blend opinion with facts. Irresponsible claims that the Board strategy resulted in gross financial losses, despite lacking the virtue of being true, had a chilling effect on some mostly newer Regency Tower residents. Ordinarily, the final results of these strategic transactions are released at subsequent Board meetings. However, given the heightened concern raised by these electioneering mischaracterizations, we thought it best to immediately report the divestiture’s lucrative outcome.

    President Dott Nicholson-Brown Did the Legwork
    Dott Did Legwork
    Needless to say, we don’t agree that working to maintain our investment value and controlling maintenance expense are inappropriate objectives for the Board of Directors. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have invested the hundreds of stressful hours it took to knock a third of a million dollars off our maintenance assessments!

    We would also like to express our appreciation for the patience and support demonstrated by the vast majority of our Regency Tower family and congratulations on having substantially benefited from another successful mutual effort!



    Treasurer Bill Tennenbaum Reported Sales at Budget Meetings
    Board Members Appreciate Fruit Basket sent By Regency Tower Residents Phil and
    Maria Quiles (Unit 201) in Gratitude for Working to Support Condominium Unit Values

    The Regency Tower Board of Directors

    Cable Static Blows Over

    March 5, 2008 - Regency Tower residents noticed a problem when they tuned into channel 99 in early March. When residents using analog cable boxes or direct-access cable-ready televisions turned on their HBO-2 channel, they heard noisy static instead of the usual audio feed. Some residents called Comcast to report the problem. Unable to diagnose the source of the problem over the telephone, perplexed technical advisors turned the complainants over to customer service. Once transferred to customer service, those hardy individuals willing to endure the narcotizing elevator music were given appointments with repair personnel.

    Over the next few days, Comcast maintenance representatives examined various cable configurations in appointees’ apartments. Unable to abate the incessant static, they told disappointed customers that the technical repairs department would be notified. Others guessed at why the analog audio signal was degraded, asserting difficulties with the boxes, the satellite, the meter room master control, the rooftop stack access, etc. In truth, they had no idea why the sound track was disabled.

    Residents who spoke with customer service or repair techs repeated what they interpreted as the problem’s underlying rationale. Reminiscent of the children’s game “telephone”, the feedback was altered slightly with each conveyance. One resident (who shall remain anonymous), contended that a satellite crashed into “space junk”. Another woman who spoke at length with a technical representative over the telephone said that she was advised that only a digital box could cure the problem. Several other residents surmised that this was a Comcast ploy, an attempt to force analog customers to purchase an upgrade to digital service. Unfortunately, this rumor had legs and caused unnecessary concern to many residents.

    As per our agreement, the association’s emergency Comcast contact was called to address the problem. Within 24 hours, the mysterious static was mitigated... and no one had to buy any special equipment.

    This particular supposition arises following almost every Comcast service interruption. In a nutshell, it ain’t so. Late last year, the Cable Committee investigated several bulk service alternatives to the expiring 5-year Comcast agreement. Packages from satellite service providers and other cable vendors were carefully scrutinized. In view of recent legislation clearing the way for cable competition, AT&T issued press releases exclaiming their intention to compete with cable providers across the State. When the Committee called to elicit their participation, AT&T said that they planned to enter the Fort Lauderdale market in a year or two.

    Although the package ultimately negotiated with Comcast was clearly the least expensive and most flexible, the Committee determined that if another full service cable provider were to enter the area market, competitive pressure would either lower costs or significantly enhance services. To expedite this anticipated opportunity, the Cable Committee recommended modifying the renewal, proposing that a 3-year contract replace the standard 5-year agreement. Within the next few years, we will be able to take advantage of the new cable environment.

    Another issue the Cable Committee addressed was the upcoming nationwide transition to digital service by the cable industry. Every reputable cable provider warned about the additional cost attached to this changeover. The Committee insisted that residents satisfied with the existing service be shielded from paying the additional expenses projected for the new digital services. Comcast and the Committee reviewed several methodologies for implementing a combination of existing analog service and new digital service in Regency Tower. After negotiating for several months, an accord was struck. Comcast agreed to send both signals to our association, obviating the need to purchase any digital equipment unless digital services were specifically requested by the unit owner.

    These are included in the terms of our understanding with Comcast. If you are satisfied with up to two analog cable boxes or cable-ready analog access, two HBO channels (HBO 1 on channel 96 and HBO 2 on channel 99) and access to the House Channel, you will not have to purchase ANYTHING to receive this standard cable lineup. If any signal interference impacts your receipt of these services, it must be fixed without your having to purchase special equipment. However, if you want High Definition television (HDTV), certain incremental channel packages, On Demand free services or expanded access to pay-per-view features, you will need a digital decoder box from Comcast at an additional cost.

    Comcast Fixes Cable Flaws

    December 23, 2007 - In mid-December, Regency Tower residents planning to watch a movie turned on the set, tuned to channel 96 or 99 and wondered what they did wrong as they stared at the gritty black screen. Viewers automatically went into their secret magic repair mode. For most of us, that means banging on the TV while gently cajoling or hurling invective. For some, that means some variation of “rebooting” the device – turning the set off and then on again. Some wait for exactly 3 or 5 minutes between boots. Others unplug the set, or the box, or the VCR, or the DVD, or the lamp next to the set... and plug it in again before engaging in their boot routine. Short prayers randomly accompany this ritual. Hardcore “booters” wait overnight before turning the set back on.

    Invariably, after noticing that every other channel performed exactly as expected, a reach for the phone was in order. Calls went out to friends, the security desk, the office, some board member or the unfortunate volunteers on the cable committee. “Have you watched TV today,” or “Is your TV working,” or “Is Comcast doing work in the building,” or “Do we still have HBO in the new contract?”

    Next - the call to Comcast. Since calling Comcast in the past has yielded a spectrum of harrowing experiences for some residents, it occasionally provokes acute nervous disorder, not unlike the chill elicited from calling your dentist. After anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour of addressing from one to five people, an answer ensued. Actually, about five different answers. “You aren’t entitled to HBO,” or “You need to rent a digital box,” or “We are doing work in the area,” or “We’ll send someone to check your cable connection,” or “Was the bill paid?”

    It became clear that customer service was clueless. Some of the self-appointed detectives in the building advanced their own theories. “They are trying to force us to buy digital boxes!” Another hypothesis assumed that Comcast was fast forwarding their federally mandated obligation to digitize their signal. They are supposed to do this in January of 2009. Some residents, upon calling Comcast, were given appointments to check their individual service or install a new box.

    The Cable Committee contacted the association’s bulk services representative. Within an hour, she discredited the myriad theories forwarded by their own customer service department. Comcast uses special software to control the signal it sends to customers. They send any software updates directly to every customer’s individual line. Evidently, the signal sent to the dedicated filter boxes used in bulk accounts accidentally disabled their targets. Regency Tower has three such boxes located in the meter room at the garage level. They control the 2 HBO channels that non-digital customers use to watch channel 96 and channel 99 (HBO 1 and HBO 2) and the House channel. Since the House channel signal initiates from the camera in the lobby and the character generator, it was unaffected. However, the 2 HBO filter boxes responsible for translating digital to analog stopped passing the signal through. Unit owners with digital boxes were unaffected by the glitch. Comcast sent a technician to “reboot” the boxes which thereafter functioned properly.

    Cable Committee member Bob Nagle
    Bob Nagle
    This service interruption affected most of the bulk service accounts throughout the area. As remarked by Cable Committee member Bob Nagle, “It’s scary when you consider that they are the only real game in town. It will be interesting to see what happens when AT&T brings cable competition to the Fort Lauderdale market within the next few years.” Cable Committee chairman Howard Hirschman agreed, “That’s the main reason why we signed a 3-year contract instead of the usual 5-year deal.”

    Cable Committee Chair Howard Hirschman
    Howard Hirschman
    Contrary to rumor, no one will have to purchase or rent any special (digital) cable boxes to receive our contracted services. When the federally mandated change to an all-digital signal is implemented next January by cable companies across the country, Comcast will convert the signal back to analog for Regency Tower. As negotiated in the new contract, we will continue to receive both analog and digital signals, ensuring that no additional equipment will be necessary to receive the standard cable lineup, the 2 HBO channels and the House channel.

    While we were discussing the problem with the technical representative, we also asked why the reception for several residents was hampered by a phenomenon called “snow”. This annoying disturbance appears as scrolling cracked horizontal lines or like snow falling on the screen. An investigation revealed that the main Comcast electrical feed to the building was eroded. On Thursday, December 20th, Comcast technicians installed a floating scaffold at the northwest corner of the building to repair the problem. The signal was interrupted for a half-hour the next morning in order to install a temporary line that permitted continuous viewing while the main feed was removed and replaced. The signal was interrupted again while the service was switched back from the temporary line to the newly installed main feed.

    Two of the residents that complained about the signal interference confirmed that it is no longer a problem. As the Board does with all contractual obligations, we will continue to monitor cable service to ensure compliance.

    Regency Tower Sees the Light!

    Ocean Manor Experienced Serious Damage
    Wilma Removed Ocean Manor Roof
    September 9, 2007 - When Hurricane Wilma sliced through South Florida on October 24, 2005, a well-practiced hurricane preparation plan protected Regency Tower from many of the disastrous effects suffered by most of our Galt Mile neighbors. Despite these preparations and close cooperation between residents and employees during and after the storm, the Association was victimized by unavoidable debris impacts. Eviscerated sections of neighboring roofs, parts of demolished rooftop water towers and vent turbines, stripped windows and shutters that became projectiles when blown to the deck and balcony furniture irresponsibly neglected by neighboring buildings repeatedly slammed into Regency Tower balcony railings, perimeter fences, windows, deck lamps and vehicles.

    Wilma Microbursts<br>Amplify Damage
    Wilma
    Microbursts
    The statewide catastrophic damage created a long-term drain on construction resources, sending repair and rehabilitation costs through the roof. In view of the extreme hardship to residents from outlandish windstorm insurance increases and skyrocketing property taxes, Board President Dott Nicholson-Brown asked the Board to establish a policy goal of minimizing impending repair costs, hoping to dodge the need for a hurricane repairs special assessment. Despite an atmosphere of rampant price gouging and dramatic delays, committee volunteers and board members worked intensively to secure all required repairs at reasonable prices. During the year following the storm, balconies dangerously divested of their railings, fences shredded by debris impacts, dismembered video security components, rooftop windstorm damage, minor infiltrations and structural damage were all repaired with a relatively negligible fiscal impact. We paid substantially less than our neighbors for comparable repairs.

    Among the construction fields most heavily affected by the runaway demand were window installers, roofing contractors, fence and railing contractors, and lighting (electrical) contractors. When blisters were discovered on our newly installed roof in 2001, responsibility for a total resurfacing fell to the contractor. However, an investigation done by our engineer proved that the manufacturer’s roofing system suffered from an inherent defect. Roofing contractor Campany Roofing was understandably grateful upon learning that manufacturer Honeywell was contractually bound by its warranty to pay for the reinstallation. By leveraging that gratitude, we were able to substantially lower repair costs to our storm-damaged roof.

    South Parking Deck Fence
    South Parking Deck Security Fence
    We enjoyed similar success when locating a fence and railing contractor. By repairing only those sections that suffered damage instead of replacing all the railings on each affected balcony, we saved $thousands. Likewise, by replacing only irreparable sections of the perimeter fences and repairing those that were salvageable, we saved additional $thousands.

    Instead of replacing damaged video security components, the Association took advantage of new industry technology and replaced the whole system at a cost comparable to the repair estimates. Unlike the former system, the new equipment is able to incorporate new “web-based” technologies as they become available, further lowering costs.

    In contrast, electrical contractors across the state were monopolized by municipalities, county governments, school systems and large commercial developers to repair and/or replace their critical lighting systems. Much less lucrative small jobs would have to wait for a year or more if they weren’t willing to bid competitively against others with much “deeper pockets”. The Construction Committee closely scrutinized the local and statewide pressure on lighting contractors for related repairs since the storm, awaiting an expected market loosening as contractors finally caught up with demand. At the end of 2006, we learned that the market was experiencing such an adjustment.

    Our high-intensity deck lamps were initially installed during the 2002 deck and garage waterproofing and rehabilitation project. Erected on pedestals built to protect the lamps from vehicular impacts, the poles and fixtures carried a one-year warranty. When our engineer learned about a subsequent manufacturing defect in the tenons connecting the fixtures to the poles, we exercised the warranty and reinstalled new poles connected directly to the fixtures – at no cost to the association. After successfully weathering Hurricanes Katrina and Jeanne, three of the fixtures were torn from the poles during Hurricane Wilma in October 2005. Despite having passed the expiration date and the “Act of God” exclusion to standard construction warranties, we demanded that the contractor replace the decapitated fixtures and repair the damaged ones, contending a failure in their wind resistance capabilities. Unfortunately, obvious dents and impact scars on the damaged fixtures and poles proved that the failure was due to impacts from roofing material, metal and fiberglass water tower sections, loose windows, shutters, etc eviscerated during the storm. Damage related to such impacts is never covered.

    In January, 2007, the Board authorized investigating repairs to our deck lighting. Several contractors recommended completely replacing the entire lighting system for nearly $70 thousand. Our engineer informed us that if we made critical changes to the basic system, a new lighting plan would be required for $thousands in additional engineering and permitting costs. Alternatively, he said that we could realize a significant savings by instead implementing a combination of repairs and unit replacements. With one exception, we decided to pursue that strategy. Construction committee member Ron Lenzi recommended replacing any damaged fiberglass poles with code comparable aluminum ones that were the same size. While sacrificing some flexibility, they would provide better support for the fixture. The poles would be coated to match the fixtures and the other poles.

    We invited Mills Electric Service, Main-guy Electrical Company, C.W. Fischer Electric, D.V. Electric, JAM Lighting Distributors and Wesworth Electric to participate in a two-stage competition. Following our engineer’s advice, each would submit their opinion about how to best address the lighting damage and when the recommendations were compiled into a scope of work, submit a financial proposal.

    Fortunately, we stored three fixtures in the garage that were decapitated by Wilma’s flying debris. The electrical contractors agreed with our engineer that three of the eight non-functional (or missing) fixtures could be repaired. Since Mills Electric was the first to present a compliant comprehensive package, we authorized them to repair the three salvageable fixtures. Cannibalizing the damaged fixtures held in storage provided the parts needed to repair two of the three lamps, cutting parts costs by two-thirds.

    With seven of our twelve deck lamps working, we collected the various contractor repair strategies. Three plans were remarkably similar, replacing five damaged poles and five lamps. Two other proposals that endorsed repairing various combinations of poles and lamps, while less expensive and legal, would have left us non-compliant and therefore ineligible for any warranty. One bid was never completed. In late May, the fully compliant strategies proposed by Mills Electric and Fischer Electric were recommended by the construction committee to the Board, who selected Fischer Electric’s $17,900 bid instead of the $21,950 bid submitted by Mills Electric.

    Although the order was placed in June after the contract was signed, by mid-July, Fischer hadn’t yet installed the new equipment. When Chuck Fischer apologized for the delay, claiming that the lighting distributor was “dragging his feet”, we requested proof that he was not, in fact, responsible. He faxed us 2 notifications from the distributor declaring that the poles weren’t ready.

    Simultaneously, the City of Fort Lauderdale issued notices to every beachfront condominium that they were in violation of the turtle-safe lighting ordinance. The Galt Mile Association negotiated an arrangement whereby every Association would satisfy the notice by addressing the most egregious instances of their lighting violation. Following a meeting with the Code compliance officer assigned to the turtle-safe lighting issue, we included the installation of shields on the easternmost North and South Deck fixtures to block the light from direct beach visibility. To avoid any aesthetic incongruity, we asked Fischer to contact manufacturer Lithonia Lighting and order factory installed shields for the 2 affected deck lamps.

    New Aluminum Pole
    New Aluminum
    Pole
    Fischer notified us that the cost would be exorbitant, nearly $1500 extra for the shields. By late July, Fischer was approaching the deadline in a contractual penalty clause for delayed installation. Instead of threatening the company with financial repercussions, we took the opportunity to renegotiate our agreement. In exchange for withholding penalties, Fischer would make and install the required shields at no additional cost to the Association.

    Bulbs Replaced in Carriage Lamps
    Bulbs Replaced in Carriage Lamps
    Other concessions to the new ordinance were the installation of a dampening shield on the high-intensity lamp facing the beach egress security gate, installation of a manual switch controlling the lamp over the barbecue area, swapping out the four ordinary bulbs in the patio deck carriage lamps with turtle-friendly monochromatic yellow bulbs and posting a request that residents turn out their lights in rooms facing the beach when they leave the room. As a result of successful administrative negotiations, maintenance chair Dee Lanzillo and maintenance supervisor John Sala, these adaptations only cost the Association about $45 to achieve compliance.

    The balance of the equipment was finally received in August and installed over a two-day period. To minimize inconvenience to residents, the North Deck was partially closed for 4 hours on day one and the South deck was partially closed for five hours the following day. The new fixtures work perfectly and the new - stronger - Aluminum poles are virtually indistinguishable from the existing ones. While we agree that the new aluminum poles are preferable to their fiberglass predecessors, we declined replacing the undamaged older poles at a comparable additional expense. Instead, any changeover would be made by attrition. If future storms compromise any of the remaining poles, they too would be replaced with aluminum counterparts.

    We sidestepped another potential construction land mine, addressing our needs for a fraction of the original post-storm estimates. With the deck lighting returned to full functionality, Regency Tower is the only association on the block to have fully recovered from the storm without levying a special assessment dedicated to hurricane damage. As expressed by a historically well-respected lighting authority, “The light is good. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” (Gen 1:4 - 1:5) According to the city’s Code Compliance officer, even the turtles agree!

    Garage Door Gaffe

    John and Carlos work the problem
    John and Carlos
    work the problem
    July 1, 2007 - For those of you currently out of town, a few weeks ago, the garage door broke - creating a potential security nightmare and a sizable inconvenience for residents that ordinarily park in the garage. Two welds that connect the door to the stabilizer suddenly failed. Facing a four excedrin headache, the office mobilized to address the problem.

    President Dott Nicholson-Brown coordinated the effort. Security Supervisor Carlos Pereira immediately arranged for additional overnight coverage during the initial stages of the dilemma. Eric Berkowitz contacted garage door vendor EDL - GateMasters to repair the downed door. Maintenance Supervisor John Sala erected an interim barrier to temporarily secure the garage. A cursory investigatiion into the ramifications of either fixing or replacing the structure was performed. According to several vendors contacted by telephone, ordering a new replacement garage door purported to be an expensive proposition that would take at least several weeks to build and install. Conversely, they opined that repairing the door would substantially shorten the security problem and lessen the inconvenience suffered by residents using the garage. Since the break at the welds were relatively clean, fixing the door would also save a good deal of money.

    GateMasters evaluated the problem the next day, recommending that the door be transported to the shop for the required repairs. After diagnosing the reason for the damage, they determined that as the door opens and closes, wind pressure tends to rattle the large ribbed metal expanse and place undue strain on the welds. To avoid a repeat incident, several inexpensive adjustments were recommended for the repair and quickly approved.

    While the door was in the shop, the stabilizer received additional bracing at every corner. To limit the vibration responsible for the problem, a center yoke was installed on the ceiling in the middle of the 24-foot door expanse. In addition to new v-track and new chain, special stabilizer wheels were installed under the gate.

    After installing the gate, the EDL service manager alerted us to a problem with the gate motor. After examining the motor and observing its operational functionality, he explained that the 15-year old motor is on its last legs. He pointed out that the gate, after opening, behaves erratically - taking from 20 to 90 seconds to close. Although he indicated that it doesn’t require immediate attention, we should consider replacing the motor in the near future. He estimated replacement cost at about $200.

    In less than a week, the door was returned to full functionality. The improvements designed to mitigate any threat of a recurrence should also substantially extend its useful life. Thanks to the quick actions taken by the Regency Tower team, we experienced no security lapse, the door was up in record time and we saved a bundle.

    Beating Back the Wolf

    May 30, 2007 - Every Association in the State of Florida is under the fiscal gun. Unit owners are trapped in a whirlwind of unexpected expenses deriving from surprise hurricane damage, ensuing windstorm premium hikes, storm mitigation construction, skyrocketing property taxes and keeping our home structurally sound in an abusive construction environment. Now, more than ever, every dollar assumes special significance.

    To cushion residents from the budgetary bath suffered by most of our neighbors, the Regency Tower Board has committed to finding resources in areas generally neglected or overlooked by other Galt Mile Associations. Negotiating good deals and squeezing value out of construction and maintenance projects has long been one of our strengths. However, if we hope to continue effectively moderating costs, this will only get us halfway there.

    Skyrocketing insurance expenses are central to many of our financial woes. As such, the Association pushed any and all available buttons to help stem some of that painful outflow. When QBE initially investigated our qualifications for private insurance, they not only verified our newly installed structural mitigations, they closely scrutinized our maintenance program, administrative oversight, fire safety system, and security arrangments. Eligibility for coverage was contingent on demonstrating that these systems also exceeded their standards for new buildings. A thorough vetting of our operational mechanics earned Regency Tower the only unconditional policy renewal in the Galt Mile neighborhood from private carrier QBE.

    The high marks we received for creating a secure environment coupled with full compliance with current hurricane mitigation code requirements (unique in the Galt Mile neighborhood), qualified Regency Tower for a credit applicable toward future property insurance costs. Regency Tower is the only Association eligible for this credit - because YOU installed impact windows!

    Treasurer Bill Tennenbaum Scores
    Treasurer Bill Tennenbaum
    Serendipitously, this victory gave Regency Tower Treasurer Bill Tennenbaum a taste for blood. He wanted more. Bill rolled up his sleeves, made a pot of coffee, waded through our books, recharged the batteries in his cell phone, sifted through our insurance documentation and uncovered a discrepancy that, not surprisingly, favored the carrier. He then hit home run number two.

    He tenaciously pursued a suspected overcharge in our 2005, 2006 and 2007 workers compensation insurance. At the end of the day, his relentless persistence prompted an admission by the carrier that his argument was meritorious.

    Insurance Representative says Bill is wasting his time
    Company Says
    "It won't work!"
    Bill discovered that the Insurance Company utilized the wrong codes when calculating the premium assessments for our employees. Although admonished by the company and other insurance afficianados that his effort would prove futile, he persevered. Bill was determined to prove that company auditors applied incorrect employee category codes to two of our three employee groups, hiking premiums by overstating presumed risk. Despite the carrier’s discretionary right to categorize employees, Tennenbaum’s blend of precedent and common sense remarkably induced the carrier to acknowledge the arbitrary nature of their conclusions. Tennenbaum’s strategic “renegotiation” elicited the carrier’s grudging consent to apply any proven differential towards next year’s assessment.

    Bill Buries Them
    Bill sends
    the proof
    Actually, they made two mistakes. First - Bill was right - they patently miscategorized our employees. Secondly, they made Bill angry! Taking a page from his opponent’s playbook, he buried the self-proclaimed experts in documentation supportive of his contention. Unfortunately, we will never know whether they conceded the validity of Bill’s arguments or if they concluded that the amount of money at stake wasn’t worth the prospect of remaining in Tennenbaum’s crosshairs. TOO LATE - Pandora’s Box is wide open and Bill is on a roll. Having already agreed to a reduction of future premiums, they must now concern themselves with the actual final amount of that credit. In other words, “What else will the Regency Tower Insurance Committee pull out of their hat by next year?”

    Bill gets Last Laugh
    Bill gets
    Last Laugh
    While these positive outcomes aren’t meant to infer that we no longer face a difficult struggle, they do shine some light on why our maintenance costs are substantially lower than those of our neighboring Associations. If we continue wringing value from every afforded opportunity, we will survive these challenging times - INTACT!

    HBO-1 Moves from Channel 98 to Channel 96

    Continental Management Paint Division
    HBO 1 Moves from Ch. 98 to Ch. 96
    December 12, 2006 - Residents recently lodged numerous complaints about the deteriorating quality of their HBO-1 service on channel 98. Upon investigating the problem, we learned that Comcast started using the frequency on channel 97 to electronically contact and control certain equipment in the field. The resulting “frequency spillage” is causing static interference with the adjacent frequency (on channel 98). To address the problem, we switched our HBO-1 service to channel 96 instead of channel 98. Since the picture on channel 96 is not affected by the interference, it is very clear. HBO-2 service will continue to be available on channel 99. Happy Viewing!

    Balcony Railings Rehabilitation Project

    January 2007 - Complete!

    Continental Management Paint Division
    Continental Management
    On March 21st, Continental Management Paint Division representatives visited Regency Tower to begin preparation for the repairs to our peeling and pitting balcony railings. After briefly reviewing the layout of our roof (they access each unit from a swing stage - a flying scaffold - suspended from the roof), the Construction Committee scheduled the initial setup and the project strategy. The swing stage was delivered on March 28th and affixed to the roof the following day. Work started on March 31st with Stack Number 1 and proceeded west to Stack Number 6. The equipment will next be transferred to the north side of the building where they will commence with the Number 7 Stack and work their way east until they wind up the project upon completing the Number 11 Stack. As arranged, repairs were effected utilizing an electrostatic application technique. While sending a current of electricity through the balcony railing, they surround the railing with a cloud of ionized paint particles. Each particle is ascribed a positive and negative area, emulating tiny magnets. The negative charge sent through the railing attracts the positive side of each paint particle to the railing surface. Since the attraction is equally exercised in every direction, every surface attracts the same amount of paint, resulting in an even distribution of paint on the areas to be repaired.

    As the work progressed, several glitches were encountered and overcome. An ongoing review of the completed stacks has revealed results that far exceeded our expectations. Although our original five-year warranty expired two years ago, the rehabilitated railings appear brand new. While we are not entitled to an extension of any warranty since we are not paying for the renovation, the coating should extend the projected life of the railings for another 4 to 5 years before requiring additional attention. Not too shabby!

    PLEASE NOTE: Remove Balcony Furniture to Prevent Paint Stains! Announcements will be made 2 - 3 days before commencing work on each stack. If you expect to not be here when work on your stack commences, REMOVE THE FURNITURE FROM YOUR BALCONY BEFORE YOU LEAVE!

     
    Stack 1   Stack 3   Stack 5   Stack 7   Stack 9   Stack 11
    Stack 2   Stack 4   Stack 6   Stack 8   Stack 10   

    Legend: Completed - In Progress - Yet to be Done

    Balcony Railings Rehabilitation Wrap Up

    February 2, 2007 - On Friday, January 26, 2007, the rehabilitation of balcony railings on Stack 11 (the final stack) was completed. The following Monday, January 29th, five glitches about which owners previously notified the office were attended to. Two units for which owners reported “missed spots”, 501 and 707, were addressed. Since units 2003 and 706 recently replaced sections of railing blown out by Hurricane Wilma, rehabilitation of their remaining balcony railing was postponed until after the missing sections were installed, insuring a consistent appearance throughout. The east side of the balcony railing in unit 1010 was so badly deteriorated, instead of repairing only the areas showing exposures, the contractor prepped and recoated the entire section. Since the contractor addressed prior problems as they were reported to the office during the course of the project, following these five repairs, the project was concluded.

    That’s it! They are gone! No more noise from the balcony railing coating repairs! During the course of the 10 month project, each and every balcony railing was meticulously prepped, primed and painted. Although it took almost seven years, we finally received what was originally contracted for those many years ago - properly coated balcony railings.

    FYI: If you notice any problems in the future, you will have to settle for heartfelt expressions of sympathy. The warranty covering these balcony railings expired about two years ago. The company with which the original contract was made no longer exists. Additionally, the warranty in that contract only obligated the vendor to repair those areas clearly demonstrating a defect. The rehabilitation we benefitted from cost us NOTHING and far exceeded the warranted response, even when it was in effect two years ago! Inasmuch, any scratches, scrapes, marks, blisters, bubbles and exposures found in the future will have to be repaired the “old fashioned” way - with a scraper, a can of glossy white enamel acrylic spray paint and some elbow grease!

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    October 2006 Fence and Railing Progress

    Click to Fence and Railing Depot Web Site The fences are going up. Fence and Railing Depot, having undergone “reorganization”, has committed to completing the rehabilitation of perimeter and interior fences on the Regency Tower premises. In accord with a recently updated installation plan, the fence separating the South Parking Deck from the Upper Patio Deck has already been erected. Unlike some of its previous incarnations, this security fence has been meticulously constructed and enjoys certain marked improvements. As is apparent upon scrutiny, the new fence is level across the entire span. Even the fence segment that sits on our common perimeter wall with Galt Ocean Club has been appropriately height-adjusted to the security fence.

    Aerial View of Regency Tower Fence Plan
    Aerial View of Regency Tower Fence Plan
    Not as noticeable is the significant upgrade to the new fence’s stability. The former 2-inch posts inserted 3 to 4 inches into the cinder block wall were replaced with 6 to 8 inch deep, 3-inch posts. That translates into a substantial increase in the amount of concrete supporting each post. The internal surface area of a 2 inch post is 4 square inches. The 2-inch post, inserted to a depth of 3 to 4 inches, yields 12 to 16 cubic inches of interior concrete support. Since the internal surface area of a 3 inch post is 9 square inches, when inserted to a depth of 6 to 8 inches, it yields 54 to 72 cubic inches of interior concrete support. Increasing the post width from 2 to 3 inches quadrupled the amount of interior concrete post support.

    South Parking Deck Security Fence
    South Parking Deck Security Fence
    Now that the South Security fence has been installed, the contractor will concentrate on the North Parking Deck Security fence. The fence will also be anchored by 3-inch posts inserted 6 to 8 inches into the wall. However, the instability of the concrete wall that supports the fence had to be addressed. Examination of the fence damage after every storm revealed that while the fences remained intact, the cores they were posted into consistently cracked under the sustained pressure. As such, a steel corset lining the easternmost garage wall will serve to prevent the reactive deterioration its predecessor suffered when pummeled by debris. The diamond plate flashing that’s firmly affixed to the wall helps distribute debris impacts throughout the entire wall as opposed to concentrating the stress on the posted cores.

    Upper Patio Deck Fence
    Upper Patio Deck Fence (Last)
    Steel bars brace every post supporting the pool and seawall fence. They were discretely installed behind the posts, deliberately hidden to avoid imbuing the railing with an industrial appearance. As with the fence on the North Parking Deck, the vast majority of the damage during the past two years resulted from inadequate support. While the fences held together, the posts were ripped from their cores. The 36 year old seawall is marginally capable of anchoring the fence by itself during severe windstorm events. The 3-inch wide steel braces buttressing the posts will better distribute any impact pressure over a much greater area, relieving the overburdened cores that have consistently proven to be the weakest link in our fence system.

    Regency Tower Balcony Railing
    Regency Tower Balcony Railing
    Prior to installation of the south security fence, rehabilitation of the pool fence, the seawall fence and hurricane damaged balcony railings was commenced. Several sections of inadequate replacement fence and railing had to be remade. We need one section of pool fence and a corner attachment to complete the pool and seawall span. We are also awaiting remanufacture of the stair rails prior to installing the fence separating the Upper Patio Deck from the Pool Deck. Since this fence is an interior structure that doesn’t contribute to Association security, installation was scheduled after the North Deck, South Deck, seawall and pool fences. Two sections of balcony railing are also being rewelded. Delivery of all the missing sections is expected during the week of October 23rd. With the cooperation of the weather, the project should be completed within a few weeks.

    Regency Tower Pool Fence
    Regency Tower Pool Fence
    The balcony railing rehabilitation project has also progressed. Work on Stack 9 started on October 19th. With good weather, the project may be completed by the end of the year. Those balconies that lost sections of railing during Hurricane Wilma were recently repaired. To better coordinate the older railing color with that of the new replacement railing, Continental will return to those units and paint the entire balcony railing. We’ve scheduled these unanticipated repairs to be effected during days that it is too windy to utilize the swing stage. We’ve also requested that Continental paint the South Parking Deck Security Gate, as it is the only section of the old fence that didn’t require replacement. Booyah!

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    Regency Tower Races to Compliance

    Regency Tower North Lobby Impact Windows
    North Lobby Windows Replaced
    August 18, 2006 - As every Regency Tower Resident protected their units with impact windows, the building could do no less. Impact windows were installed in the Office, the Meeting Room, the Exercise Room and the Rendezvous Room (which also received impact doors!), fully protecting the south side of the ground level. The windows in the main lobby and the lobby alcove on the north side of the building were temporarily delayed to allow installers to concentrate on protecting the last few units. With the arrival of Hurricane Season, we opted to complete the ground floor protection. By late June, the remaining unaddressed north lobby windows were replaced with their Large Missile Impact counterparts, fully protecting every window on the ground floor. The previously ordered impact-rated replacement doors for the north and south lobby entrances were installed in early August. Since the Main Lobby Entrance bristles with special fire safety features, security features and additional control functions, the highly-customized upgrade to impact-rated glazing had to be performed by a specialty company with unique credentials. On August 31st, the delicate electronics governing relevant systems at the main lobby entrance was disconnected prior to its scheduled September 1st replacement with Large Missile Impact doors. Regency Tower, Galleon and L’Ambiance are currently the best protected properties on the Galt Mile. Not bad for the little building that COULD!

    Magazine & Catalog Donations

    Magazines & Catalogs for Charity
    Magazines & Catalogs
    We are collecting old magazines and catalogs for charity. Several Fort Lauderdale schools are participating in a
    Magazine/Catalogue Recycling Program beginning Monday, January 9 through Friday, March 31, 2006. At the end of the program, schools are paid according to how many tons of material they’ve collected. We’ve agreed to lend a hand. Please stack your catalogs and magazines neatly next to the newspaper box in your hallway trash room. The Maintenance guys will collect the magazines and catalogs for distribution to the school. Its not often that you get a warm and fuzzy feeling when you toss the trash! For more information about the Magazine/Catalogue Recycling Program, Click Here or contact Casey Eckels, Recycling Program Coordinator, at 954-828-5577 or e-mail ceckels@fortlauderdale.gov. Thanks!

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    Wilma Turns Out the Lights

    How Regency Tower Weathered the Storm

    Hurricane Wilma Turns to Florida After Attaining Gust Speeds of 170 MPH Off the Coast of Mexico Hurricane Wilma posted gust speeds up to 170 MPH during the several days it rested off the Mexican coast in preparation for turning northeast to assault the Florida peninsula. After witnessing the nail biting Category 3 devastation with which Wilma slammed the west coast on October 23rd and following its progress across the State, Regency Tower residents closed their eyes and held their breath as the strongest Atlantic hurricane to date pounced early on October 24th. The only positive aspect of the storm was the fact that it was motoring through Florida at 30 MPH, portending a minimum of flooding. This fooled millions of South Florida residents into believing that Wilma would be a five or six hour Monday morning annoyance. Instead, Wilma proved to be the greatest catastrophe to ever hit Broward County.

    Fallen Power Lines And Transformers on NE 15th Street in Fort Lauderdale
    Fallen Power Lines and Transformers
    on NE 15th Street in Fort Lauderdale
    Wilma plowed through the State like an intergalactic vacuum cleaner, obliterating a wide swathe of civilization. Necessities taken for granted by millions of South Florida residents - power, water, telephone, and fuel - disappeared within a few hours. Windows and doors exploded off buildings like popcorn. It pealed roofing and walls from structures as if they were wet cardboard. Trees and vehicles became projectiles, driven by high winds into one another and adjacent buildings. Once Wilma finally jumped to the Atlantic Ocean, people realized that nothing was left unscathed. Owing to the enormous scope of the storm, evacuation was not an option.

    Ghost Town - Federal Highway and SE 24th Street in Fort Lauderdale
    Ghost Town - Federal Highway and SE 24th St
    Of Florida Power & Light’s 4.5 million South Florida paying customers, 3.5 million had no power. While the utility’s main power plants were still functional, 240 substations suffered catastrophic damage. In neighborhoods with above ground electrical lines, trees and other flora were intertwined with high tension wires and banged up transformers were reconfigured to mimic Modern Art. In Broward County, 98% of FPL’s customers were stranded. 859,000 Broward residents were powerless while 3600 incredibly lucky homes were still juiced. The utility, despite importing 3000 additional electrical workers from out of the area on Monday, told customers that it would take up to four weeks to repair all the damage.

    Broward Financial Center (the Templeton Building) in Downtown Fort Lauderdale
    Broward Financial Center in
    Downtown Fort Lauderdale
    Along with hospitals, police stations and fire stations, water treatment plants were also left without power. Once FP&L powered up these critical parts of the public service infrastructure and turned the water on, residents received another shock. The water never arrived at its destination. Officials learned that water mains throughout the County were pounded to dust. Even sections that could be repaired were contaminated by backflow infiltration. Despite reassurances by officials that massive repair efforts were underway, by Wednesday morning FP&L was only able to bring power to an additional 2400 Broward customers. Bellsouth announced that 855,000 residents on Florida’s east coast lost phone service after the storm. Of those with service, the vast majority exclusively used electric-powered cordless phones, useless where the power was off. Residents found their cellular phones to be of limited use due to infrastructure damage experienced by most of the cellular networks. Residents were faced with no power, gasoline, water and telephone service - limbo. Isolated Regency Tower residents saw little relief on the horizon.

    Like Many Galt Associations - Playa Del Mar Loses Many Non-Compliant Windows
    Regency Residents Witnessed Playa del Mar
    Losing Many Non-Compliant Windows
    Regency Tower, like the rest of the Galt Mile, was a disaster area. Landscaping was uprooted and shredded. Vehicles left on the outside parking decks were stripped of windows and pummeled by flying debris. Cars, SUVs and small trucks were tossed about like pinballs, banging into perimeter walls and one another. Dozens of non-compliant windows and “hurricane shutters” that were ripped off the building became flying guillotines, repeatedly smashing into vehicles, the perimeter fences and the building walls. Ironically, these shutter panels that were installed 35 years ago to protect the units from severe storms became one of the primary sources of damage. Many of the decorative street lamps on Galt Ocean Drive were sheared in half or decapitated. Similarly, three of the high intensity lamps illuminating our decks were knocked off their support poles. Fences at the east side of the north and south parking decks were torn out. The awning covering the entrance to the garage was twisted into a gigantic Rubik’s Cube and the ceiling above the main entry alcove endured multiple cracks. The swimming pool became a huge trash receptacle, containing sections roofing material, shutters, window remnants, shutter tracks and battered parts of the water towers that were blown off the Galt Ocean Club’s roof. Our own roof was spared, save some minor damage to a water tower line.

    Mayor Jim Naugle To FPL - Help High Rise Residents
    Mayor Naugle To FP&L
    Help High Rise People
    On Tuesday morning, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle appeared in a televised interview during which he described the area game plan. He said that FP&L and local officials would spend Tuesday assessing the extent of the damage. He confirmed that powering up hospitals; police and fire stations and water treatment facilities were uncontested priorities. The Mayor surprised viewers when he said, “I know that many single family homeowners may not agree, but we need to get power to the many high rise buildings in the area. People stranded on the 15th floor without power and water present access problems not faced by other residents. This has to be one of our priorities.” On Tuesday, the Board contacted Broward County to learn when the water would again flow. County spokespersons said that we could expect to see water by Tuesday evening. While they weren’t permitted to sell perishable items, Winn Dixie Supermarket in the Galt Mile Shopping Plaza used emergency generators to open for business late Tuesday afternoon. To purchase the remnants of their skeletal inventory, Galt Mile residents formed a line that extended almost 100 yards into their parking lot and brought plenty of cash and patience.

    Galt Ocean Drive after Wilma
    Galt Ocean Drive by Plaza South After Wilma
    Faced with a desperate situation, many Regency Tower residents realized that they needed one another to survive. Grudges were set aside, people checked to see if heretofore ignored neighbors needed help. Bucket brigades were organized to bring water from the swimming pool up to units to force toilets to flush. As frozen foods defrosted, people aggregated around the Association’s barbecue grill, creating a spontaneous daylight restaurant. Hungry residents contributed food or cooking skill, turning the catastrophe into an opportunity to know one another. Our emergency building generator provided for our basic power requirements, powering one elevator, the fire safety system and emergency lights. Our maintenance department extended the generator's capabilities to temporarily power the office, facilitating communication with owners not in residence trying to learn the status of their homes. The building’s public address system was used to keep those in residence abreast of events and make vital announcements. Information was also posted on the portable bulletin boards at the lobby elevators. When the area became inaccessible during the initial stages of the crisis, volunteers such as Anne-Marie Griffin, Marty Rivas and others helped man critical security positions while others responded to supplications for help from their neighbors. Serendipitously, this disaster brought out the best in our Regency “family”.

    Fort Lauderdale Fire Marshal Steve Kastner Sent Emergency Teams to Check on Galt Residents
    Fire Marshal Steve
    Kastner - EMT Teams
    City officials realized early on that many elderly residents normally cared for by Home Health Care Aides or nurses were isolated and inaccessible. Given the potential for tragedy, Fort Lauderdale Fire Marshall Steve Kastner sent a three-person EMT crew to every building along Galt Ocean Drive on Tuesday, canvassing the neighborhood for those in need of assistance.
    Fort Lauderdale City Manager George Demetrios Gretsas - Kept Regency Board Posted about Galt Repair Progress
    City Manager Gretsas
    Pushed Galt Repairs
    The Fire-Rescue personnel entered Regency Tower and spoke to building staff and available residents, inquiring about medical shut-ins and others that may not have been able to alert neighbors to possible emergencies.

    By Wednesday morning, several Associations on the northern end of the block (Galt Towers, L'Ambiance, Galleon, Ocean Club, Ocean Summit, etc.) regained electricity and some also had water. The Regency Tower Board contacted Vice Mayor Christine Teel, alerting her to a possible health crisis adjunctive to prolonged lack of water.
    Vice Mayor Christine Teel Helped Prevent Health Crisis
    V. Mayor Christine Teel
    Avert Galt Health Crisis
    City Manager George Gretsas responded by informing a Regency Board member about the City’s repair progress. He explained that when the water was turned back on by Tuesday afternoon, water main damage thwarted attempts to attain pressure adequate to reach most of the buildings south of Ocean Summit. He said that they would concentrate on repairs to the water mains feeding the barrier island, projecting that water could possibly flow to the balance of the area as early as Wednesday afternoon. By about 3 PM, water pressure reached levels adequate to restart our building pump. At about 4:30 PM, screams of delight and relief were heard along the entire block as electricity was restored to the remaining buildings. Regency Tower was returned to the 21st century.

    Hamilton Gallery on A1A and Coral Ridge Towers Complex Lost Non-Compliant Windows
    Looters Hit Hamilton Gallery on A1A and Coral
    Ridge Towers Coops Lost Non-Compliant Windows
    Fort Lauderdale was operating under a boil water order, a warning given when system contamination is suspected. People without electricity who weren’t able to boil their water to kill toxic organic material could still disinfect contaminated water. Florida Department of Health spokesman Irving “Doc” Kokol explained that water can be made potable by mixing in 8 drops of unscented bleach (Clorox) per gallon and letting it set for 30 minutes. If the end product is still cloudy after 30 minutes, repeat the process. Mayor Jim Naugle also contacted Galt Mile Community Association President Robert Rozema, asking that residents conserve water whenever possible. He explained that enormous damage to the Lift Stations that insure water quality had yet to be repaired and that the boil water order would extend at least through Friday.

    Long Lines at Winn Dixie on Tuesday
    Galt Residents Line Up at Winn Dixie on Tuesday
    With the return of basic utilities, Regency Tower immediately turned resources and manpower to the massive clean-up and repair efforts. On Tuesday, the Board organized a building-wide investigation into the damage sustained by individual units. Six teams, each comprised of a Board member and a volunteer resident, divided the building into sections and documented the visible damage found in every unit. Joe Anastasi, Barbara Verol, Bob Nagle, Eileen Bendis, Rafael and Ofelia Alleguez each teamed up with a Board member to evaluate our 203 units. The review revealed that dozens of non-compliant windows and shutters were torn out by the storm. While some of the impact rated windows broke, not one was shattered apart or penetrated. The impact windows performed as expected. They stopped the storm from entering protected units.
    Holy Cross Medical Group in the Galt Mile Shopping Plaza
    Roof Stripped from Holy Cross Medical
    Group in the Galt Mile Shopping Plaza
    Not surprisingly, the only units that experienced serious damage were those whose owners still hadn't installed impact rated windows. While some of the damage was caused by flying debris, the vast majority of the non-compliant windows and shutters were blown out by negative wind pressure. In one unit, however, the non-compliant windows were seemingly victimized by positive wind pressure. The windows were blown into the unit, causing instantaneous evacuation. The enormous pressure change collapsed two interior walls. In several units, sections of balcony railing were torn from their posts and some of the individual pikes were bent, apparently impacted by flying debris. Several units also suffered infiltration, often under balcony doors and around windows. A major source of infiltration resulted from the hurricane shutter tracks buried in the walls under windows. When weep holes in the tracks become clogged, they fill with water which eventually spills into the subfloor. The collected water builds up until it reaches the lowest levels of the unit’s floor (sometimes in the middle of the room), where it soaks into the padding underneath carpeting. Water then absorbed into the carpeting appears as random patches of wetness, seemingly unconnected to one another.

    Ocean Club had Minimal Damage and Had Electricity and Water by Tuesday
    Ocean Club Suffered Minimal Damage
    Had Electricity and Water by Tuesday
    The results of our investigation were given to the office. By Wednesday, if any unit owner called to find out how their home weathered the storm, they were given a verified report. After water was returned to the area and the swimming pool was no longer needed as a source of water to force flush toilets, the contaminated pool was drained and rehabilitated. While Board members worked to organize the recovery, residents pitched in with employees to clean up the grounds. Mark Pestano, Joe Anastasi, Eric Berkowitz, Mark Gregory, Bill Tennenbaum and many others worked with staff to clear the debris inundating the premises.

    Ocean Manor Experienced Serious Damage
    Ocean Manor Experienced Serious Damage
    Southpoint and Plaza South suffered extensive damage to their lobbies. Associations dependent upon emergency generators using diesel fuel or gasoline weren’t able to replenish depleted fuel supplies. Ocean Manor Condominium Hotel experienced serious exterior damage including the collapse of the Tiki Bar adjacent to the pool area. Galt Ocean Club lost several rooftop water towers, one of which now adorns their tennis court. During the storm, Regency residents facing north witnessed dozens of non-compliant windows in Playa del Mar systematically extracted. Similarly, owners of south-facing units saw many of Galt Ocean Club’s 15 lost windows torn out. Ocean Summit reported the loss of about 80 non-compliant windows. In addition to losing over 20 non-compliant windows, Galt Towers also lost some windows to a sizable chunk of concrete balcony railing knocked off the second penthouse of Plaza South. Regency South, Royal Ambassador, Southpoint, Ocean Riviera, Caribé, Playa del Sol, Commodore and Coral Ridge Towers North also reported losing large numbers of non-compliant windows. With few exceptions, Associations assessing unit damage reported direct correlations between the extent of the damage and the window types protecting the units. An unusual phenomenon characterized as a mini-burst, a sort of mini-tornado generated when high winds are trapped in a particular structural configuration, seems to have occurred on the north side of Commodore’s parking deck. Fierce winds carried a car from the Commodore parking deck over the perimeter wall to the Playa del Sol parking deck. L’Hermitage, wherein construction permits were issued in the mid to late nineties subject to the post-Andrew construction codes, was caught in a code twilight zone. The technological teeth were put into the current Miami Protocols in 2001 and 2002 when testing and protection standards were solidified and upgraded to more closely match the threats faced by acceptable products. As such, unlike the more recently installed impact windows that successfully withstood Wilma’s onslaught, many of L’Hermitage’s windows were devastated. In response to Wilma, many Associations are reordering priorities to incorporate upgrades to their emergency response systems and accelerate their building-wide protection programs. Priority repairs to roofing, A/C systems and structural damage will also occupy Galt Associations for the immediate future.

    Mile long line at BP Gas Station at 6th Street and Federal Highway
    Lines at BP Gas Station
    at 6th St and Federal Hway
    Another critical development surfaced in the form of endless gas lines. While local gas stations had full tanks, many of them had no power to pump the gas to waiting vehicles. The few stations that secured emergency generators were beset by thousands of motorists and gas generator owners needing another day’s fuel supply. Miles-long lines of vehicles surrounded the operational stations all day on Tuesday and Wednesday. At closing time, station owners called the police to help suppress flaring tempers of drivers notified that they would have to wait until morning to finally gas up. Hundreds of drivers who spent 6 to 7 hours waiting on line opted to sleep in their vehicles rather than relinquish their place on line and “try again tomorrow.” Many ran out of gas while waiting for service. When stations opened the following morning, vehicles with empty tanks had to be pushed up to the pump to get gas. Many stations instituted a $10, $20, or $25 maximum allocation policy. Evidently, adequate gas reserves were available once Port Everglades regained the power needed to offload fuel. The stumbling block will continue to be power to the individual gas stations. As more stations get power from FP&L or obtain emergency generators to pump their gas, the crisis will abate.

    Toys-R-Us on Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale
    TOYS-R-US on Federal Highway
    Seneca, a mid-1st century AD Roman philosopher said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Luck is what Regency Tower experienced when beset by the strongest rated hurricane in recorded history. Drawing on the lessons learned over the past two years, Regency Tower instituted an Emergency Hurricane Plan addressing both resident safety precautions and building-wide preparation protocols. As compared to many of our neighbors, Regency Tower was one of the best prepared Associations in the Galt Mile neighborhood. Instead of depending upon official “Watch” or “Warning” alerts to trigger preparation response, work was commenced based upon the actual time estimated to complete those preparations. Balconies were secured, the roof was secured and elevators were brought to emergency status prior to the power outage. Responding to the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s admonition, “The most important precaution you can take to reduce damage to your home and property is to protect the areas where wind can enter,” Regency Tower’s grass roots Impact Windows Project protected the vast majority of our residents’ homes.

    Regency Tower Maintenance Crew Works Toward Recovery
    Regency Tower Maintenance Crew Aids Recovery
    After the catastrophe, the Board reacted quickly to assess the damage and organize efforts to soften the storm’s effect on residents - both here and abroad. Despite being unable to return from North Carolina until Fort Lauderdale Airport was reopened on October 29th, President Dott Nicholson-Brown remained in constant contact with the office, overseeing recovery efforts. Vice President Pablo Verol met with Board members Fern McBride, Louise Collins, Iris Anastasi, Bill Tennenbaum and Eric Berkowitz to help organize and execute a recovery plan. Prior to the return of water and power, the Board compensated for the vacuum created when employees had difficulty getting to work - adjusting shifts to bolster security and afford assistance to those in need. Our maintenance department gave the office staff temporary emergency power to provide residents with a critical communications center. While created for office personnel to answer owners’ questions about the condition of their units, the individual unit damage assessment also served as a repair guide, indicating to maintenance staff which units needed temporary emergency repairs. Holes left where non-compliant windows were ripped from the building were covered with plywood. When damage to the water tower was discovered, board and resident volunteers personally turned off every A/C unit in the building to prevent possible burn-out when the power was restored. Once damage to the water tower was repaired (within two days), the A/C units were turned back on. Board members were in contact with City and County officials, obtaining crucial information and encouraging repair efforts needed to recover water and electricity. While the Board and our employees worked to stabilize life after Wilma, our greatest resource was our residents. People wanting to help one another and the building volunteered their assistance without being asked. The lobby became an exchange, with people offering batteries, candles, water or other help to neighbors. Those with “sterno” stoves left hot meals for those they thought in need. People patrolled their floors, checking on neighbors whose names they didn’t know. As many of us have long known, the people that live here are special. Wilma offered them another opportunity to demonstrate just how special they are.

    Along with some of the information presented above, an article on the Galt Mile Community Association web site has a more comprehensive overview of what happened to the Galt Mile neighborhood and the rest of Broward County. Click Here to check it out!

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    NewVending Machines

    We now have two vending machines located behind the Garage Security Area. One offers drinks (50¢) and the other offers snacks (50¢ - 65¢). Pennies, Foreign Coins or Wet / Torn dollar bills will not work!

    Impact Windows October Update

    Code Information & Nomenclature

    The code for impact rated windows in the State of Florida was compiled after Hurricane Andrew wrought havoc across the State in 1992. It has been refined and updated as additional information about the effects of hurricanes on new construction techniques and products has become available. Adopted by jurisdictions around the world with heightened exposure to hurricane damage, the Miami Protocols are the nation's toughest and most comprehensive compendium of protective guidelines for the installation and structural integrity of storm damage resistant products. According to the Florida Division of Emergency Management, “The most important precaution you can take to reduce damage to your home and property is to protect the areas where wind can enter. According to recent wind technology research, it’s important to strengthen the exterior of your house so wind and debris do not tear large openings in it. You can do this by protecting and reinforcing these five critical areas: ROOF | STRAPS | WINDOWS | DOORS | GARAGE DOORS”

    Pensacola Beach Condo with non-compliant windows suffered wind damage from Hurricane Ivan
    Non-compliant Pensacola Beach
    Condo Ripped by Hurricane Ivan!
    The dangers that impact rated windows are designed and tested to guard against are wind and debris. The degree of danger posed by wind and debris varies according to the climate, the immediate environment surrounding a structure containing the installation and the location of the installation within the structure. The two glazing products recognized as resistant to hurricane damage and compliant with the post-Andrew codes are small and large missile impact windows. The large missile impact products are stiffer while the small missile impact products are more flexible. While they are both capable of resisting massive debris impacts and hurricane force winds, each product is designed with an eye to protecting against a different primary threat. The more flexible small missile impact products better protect against wind damage than the stiffer large missile impact products. Installation of small missile impact products are commonly termed category 4 installations. Conversely, the large missile impact products better protect against debris than the small missile impact products. Installations of large missile impact products are called category 5 installations. The code seeks to protect the first three stories of a structure from the greater danger posed by debris with large missile rated products. It aspires to protect the structure’s higher floors from the greater wind threat with the more wind resistant small missile rated products.

    The Ambassador Condominium in Lake Worth - Non-compliant Window Sourced Hurricane Damage
    The Ambassador Condominium
    in Lake Worth after Hurricane
    The danger from, and susceptibility to, debris depends upon the type and size of the debris native to the local environment and the location of the installation within the structure. This vulnerability is affected by two factors, one major and one minor. The main component is the location’s height above grade. Gravity constrains more massive and heavier examples of debris closer to ground level. As such, installations in the first thirty feet above grade require a product that can effectively protect against more massive elements repeatedly impacting a window. In response, code mandates the additional stiffness inherent in large missile impact products. The second, less important, factor is the location of the installation relative to the corner of the structure. From an engineering standpoint, no two units have identical vulnerability, no two windows have identical vulnerability and no two locations on any single window have identical vulnerability. This vulnerability increases slightly in every window as one travels from the center of a structure to the corner.

    These Units are Protected from Hurricanes by the Impact Windows
    Wind Damage Condo Catastrophe
    The danger from wind is affected by the overall exposure of the structure and the location of an installation within the structure. Beachfront high-rise buildings are primary examples of highly exposed structures. Coastal construction is more vulnerable to wind damage than urban environments wherein buildings protect one another from high winds. Susceptibility to wind damage increases substantially with an installation’s height above grade. In response, the code accommodates installation of the more flexible small missile impact products for windows 30 feet and above measured from grade. As with debris, the dangers posed by wind also slightly increase in every window as one travels from the center of a structure to the corner.

    9 lb 2X4 shot at 50 feet per second tests Impact Window
    9 lb 2X4 Missile shot at
    50 ft/sec tests Impact Window
    The dual dangers from both debris and wind are therefore heightened at the corners of a building. The Miami Protocols (upon which our code is based) divides every structure into zones. The zone in which an installation takes place is one of the factors used by the engineer to determine the appropriate product for that location. The bottom three floors of a structure are located within zone 5. A zone 5 designation is also attributed to an area that is 10% of a structure’s shortest available length (about 7 feet for Regency Tower), measured from the corner of the building. The balance of the building falls within zone 4. As such, code stops short of mandating small or large missile impact products for corner locations above the third floor. Instead, it relies on the assessment of the engineer submitting for a permit and the local municipal or county compliance authorities to agree on whether large or small missile impact products are appropriate for installations that include a window within this unique zone. In urban areas rife with potential debris and shielded from high winds, recommending a large missile impact product might be appropriate for a fourth floor corner installation, despite its being located above thirty feet. The recommendation for the same fourth floor corner installation in a structure on the beach would be for the more flexible (and more wind resistant) small missile impact product. The code correctly permits the engineer and the local authorities to ascertain whether any corner installation above the third floor is more threatened by wind or by debris and recommend installation of the product that best mollifies that primary threat. Whether or not the engineer selects a large or small missile product for a unit including a zone 5 corner, the requirements for corner installations dictate that the selected product withstand the greater wind load to which corners are exposed. The N.O.A. (Notice of Acceptance) is predicated on the application of these heightened standards required by installations including a zone 5 corner. Therefore, both category 4 (small missile impact) and category 5 (large missile impact) installations in corner units must meet tougher standards than comparable units at the same height above grade.

    Hyatt in New Orleans After Katrina - Wrong Windows
    Hyatt in New Orleans After Katrina - Wrong Windows
    Following the serial storms of 2004, a substantial number of Regency Tower residents considering code compliant windows requested the Board's help with organizing a group installation to save money and avoid some of the pitfalls warned against by the Florida Attorney General. In addition to the savings a group installation might bring, the vast majority of those residents lobbying Board members for assistance were confused about the products available, the product manufacturers, the integrity of the available installers and post-installation warranty recourse. In response, Dott Nicholson-Brown invested hundreds of hours investigating the products of various manufacturers and ascertaining which ones would best suit the needs of our residents. The engineers responsible for determining which products should be installed recommended two window types. Consistent with code, large missile impact products (category 5) were indicated for installations below thirty feet above grade to better resist the debris usually present in that zone. Similarly, they opted for the small missile impact products (category 4) for installations above thirty feet to better resist the greater threat posed by the wind. Since the code allows for either installation in the corners above thirty feet, we inquired as to the overall protection afforded by the two options. Despite the more expensive large missile impact products being substantially more lucrative for the installers, they recommended that we install the small missile impact windows in every corner above the third floor. Their engineers explained that the greatest danger to the windows in corner units on the beach above thirty feet was incipient wind damage. Since our oceanfront location exposes us to the undiluted full force of hurricane winds, the more flexible small missile impact windows are better able to withstand the extreme negative pressure than the more rigid large missile impact products. Current experience reinforces the engineers’ assessment. Over the past two seasons, while hundreds of windows along the Galt Mile above the third floor were blown out by the wind, none were blown out by debris!

    The Tiara Condominium in Singer Island - After Hurricane Jeanne
    The Tiara Condominium in Singer
    Island - After Hurricane Jeanne
    We invited reputable installers to assume direct responsibility to each and every customer. This direct relationship with the installer whose engineer is responsible for determining the appropriate product gave every resident the opportunity to directly research the same factors upon which we based our decision. Rocky Petreccia from Vico Windows, Robin Buckley from Buckley Windows and Mark Pestano from Glass America answered hundreds of questions from Regency Tower residents about the products, the code, installation problems and pricing. Through this direct relationship with the installers, several residents were able to better tailor the original contract to address unforeseen obstacles, such as existing partial installations, requested permit variations, access problems, etc. Board members also answered any questions asked about these concerns. Many residents independently explored using other products and other installers prior to and during the project. Anyone dissatisfied with any of the arranged terms was free to independently pursue code-compliant installations. In fact, several residents asked to have contracts sent, opted out of signing them, investigated the issues independently and then asked to be included again in the next group!

    Impact Rated Window Cutaway
    Impact Rated Window Cutaway
    While devoting hundreds of hours to answering questions about the installations, our greatest challenge was to educate our residents as to the dangers inherent in doing nothing. We needed to overcome the dangerous complacency that continues to distract some of our neighbors from protecting their homes - and ours. We utilized every means of communication at our disposal. As a result, Regency Tower has the highest percentage of protected units on the block aside from new construction like L’Hermitage I, L’Hermitage II and L’Ambiance. Many other Associations such as Coral Ridge Towers East, Galt Ocean Club, Galt Towers, Coral Ridge Towers South and Sea Ranch Lakes in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea have responded to Hurricane Katrina’s wake-up call and are now arranging similar installation projects.

    Click Here (On Graphic) for Larger Version of Wind-Borne Debris Regions used for General Construction Products
    Wind-Borne Debris Regions
    There is also some confusion surrounding the nomenclature used to describe installation locations in different parts of the State. Another “Category” designation used in general construction to determine appropriate wind resistant materials is based on the American Society of Civil Engineers Standard (ASCE 7-98) for 50 - 100 year peak gusts in the State of Florida. Adopted by the International Building Code, they describe general wind loads for specific wind zones and divide the State into Wind-Borne Debris Regions. They are not the “categories” referred to in The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale used to rate hurricanes by wind speed nor are they the “categories” referring to the class of impact glass applicable to zones within a structure. As demonstrated on maps available on the Florida Department of Community Affairs Building Code site, Category 5 refers to a zone that includes the extreme southern tip of the Florida peninsula and the Keys. Category 4 installations are designated for eastern Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin Counties as well as the western sections of Monroe and Collier Counties. The western parts of Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties, along with the balance of the Florida Coast, are designated as Category 3 wind-borne debris regions. Eastern Broward’s Category 4 designation, therefore, refers to the zone within the state in which the product is to be installed.

    No Association has disseminated more information about hurricane resistant window products than Regency Tower. Our newsletter and web site, which addressed most of the questions asked by residents during the group installations, are also used by many of our neighbors as information resources. Emails sent to the web site asking for information were responded to expeditiously. Board members personally responded to dozens of questions by residents. Additionally, information was also available through the Galt Mile News and the Galt Mile Community Association web site. Topics discussed on the web site were peppered with links to their sources. Articles in the Galt newsletter end with a recommendation to access the web site for additional information. Information about the topics discussed in this brief is readily available on the internet. Residents have also had access to their installers to address more technical questions. Despite several attempts by a few admittedly confused individuals to mischaracterize facts about the installations, Regency Tower residents remain the most well-informed on the Galt Mile about impact rated windows.

    Notice: Do not put furniture back OR your PERMIT away until after the City inspects your Hurricane Windows.

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