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Fire house construction blamed for damage to nearby buildings

Sunnyside Attorney Doug Garrison is somewhat concerned about damage he said his building has sustained as a result of the recent fire station construction. An alleyway is all that separates several buildings along South Seventh Street and the construction site. Because the basement to an old medical building had to be filled with dirt there was recently a lot of compacting to ensure the foundation of the new fire station building will be on stable ground. That compacting, however, is believed to be the cause of multiple cracks in the building that houses Garrison Law Offices. "We started noticing a number of cracks on June 28," said Garrison. He said he informed the city of Sunnyside's insurance carrier, as well as his own insurance carrier. Garrison said he also let the contractor working on the fire station construction site know there is damage to the building. "The construction company has been very nice, very helpful...it's just unfortunate this has happened," said Garrison. Tim Blew, site superintendent for Blews Construction, said Garrison contacted him about the damage sustained to his law office. "I called the main office," he said, stating his firm has notified and turned the matter over to its insurance carrier. Blew said, "Everyone is waiting to see what the insurance companies find to determine the liability." Garrison said he also noticed a few cracks on the building that adjoins his law firm, which is owned by the Port of Sunnyside. Port of Sunnyside Executive Director Jay Hester said he was out of town when Garrison first noticed the damage. He was going to look at the port's building this past Tuesday, but did not have an opportunity to comment further before leaving town for a port director's meeting. Garrison said an engineer has been contacted to inspect the damage caused to his building. "The city may not be liable, but everyone has been notified of the problem," he said, stating he hopes the firm can continue its business at the current location. "The worst case scenario is that business will be interrupted so the repairs can be completed," Garrison said, noting a support beam appears to have been disturbed and there are cracks in the walls throughout the building. In back of the office is a small courtyard. Its surrounding wall, built just 10 years ago, also sustained some damage, he said. Garrison hopes the damage is merely cosmetic. "We had someone look at the roof...my insurance adjuster found damage I hadn't spotted in the boiler room," he said. If the roof was damaged, Garrison fears there will be leaks. "The vibrations from the compaction were so great that my phone was vibrating off my desk when I was on the phone, telling my father about what had been found," said Garrison. "The method for compaction of the fill dirt for the basement is believed to be the cause...there was a giant machine that vibrated as it compacted the dirt," he said, stating he believes there may have been a better method for the process. Garrison is the only property owner near the site to have reported finding damage so far. He said he believes the matter will be resolved in the spirit of cooperation. Blew said he wants a positive outcome for Garrison and hopes the matter is resolved for all parties.

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