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Maintenance records give no hints to parking garage collapse

Inspectors look over the area where a 27,000-pound concrete facade fell off of the O'Donnell Park parking garage on Friday. (Photo by Joe Yovino)

Inspectors on Friday look over the area where a 27,000-pound concrete facade fell off of the O'Donnell Park parking garage. Maintenance records on the structure obtained by The Daily Reporter give no indication of the facade's failure. (Photo by Joe Yovino)

By Joe Yovino

In response to reporters’ questions during the news conference last Friday following the partial collapse of the O’Donnell Park parking garage, Milwaukee County Parks Director Sue Black circulated a summary table of maintenance items related to the structure.

The 33 items, all of which were submitted to the County Board spanning the past six years, include lighting issues, water leakage, and aging and noncompliant restrooms. The items range in cost from $250 to almost $78 million.

Black, in her memo, relates that “no items on this list are related in any manner to the facade of the structure.”

And she’s right.

Nowhere on the one-page table could give any indication that a 27,000-pound chunk of the facade would fall to the ground and kill 15-year-old Jared Kellner of Greenfield, who was simply enjoying an outing to Summerfest with friends.

The list presented to the County Board contains seven completed projects that were deemed critical. Of those seven on the critical list, many are categorized as “annual repairs,” including the investigation into water leaks and a leak in the back-flow protection.

While the report shows cracks in concrete walls and the superstructure at O’Donnell, a consultant engineering firm was retained by the county and a report was given in January 2006.

”All of the recommendations from this report have been implemented along with ongoing annual inspection,” according to the report.

So even with the spotty history of the parking structure (from the original architect getting fired to claims the structure was falling apart before it was even completed), there was still no way to see this tragedy coming.

The ongoing investigation from the sheriff’s office may yield some answers, but for now there are way more questions, starting with: Why?

Joe Yovino is the Web editor at The Daily Reporter.

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