- Associated Press - Friday, March 7, 2014

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - University of Missouri records show a master plan for an apartment complex where a firefighter recently died recommended in 2008 that the complex be demolished because of its poor condition.

Columbia fire department Lt. Bruce Britt died at University Village Feb. 22 as he was evacuating residents after part of a walkway collapsed. An engineering review released Tuesday said the second-floor walkway Britt was on collapsed because of a concrete failure.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported Friday that (https://bit.ly/1jZyETV ) documents it obtained indicated the university was concerned about the condition of walkways at the 57-year-old complex for years, and work orders were filed as recently as last year.

A 2008 draft of the Graduate and Family Housing Master Plan called “deteriorating metal decks” at the complex “a safety hazard.” It also noted problems such as termite-damaged wood structures, aging windows, and “damp” and “musty” interiors caused by inadequate waterproofing ventilation.

The plan recommended renovations for the university’s three other graduate and family housing complexes but said University Village, which was built in 1956, should be demolished because it was too expensive to renovate and because it is in a floodway. It recommended that the university continue to use University Village until renovations at the other complexes were complete, preferably by 2011.

“There is significant structural damage and deterioration in all buildings except 702 and 703, which have been rebuilt,” the authors wrote.

A 2012 update of a more comprehensive Residential Life Master Plan does not include University Village in future plans for graduate housing.

University spokesman Christian Basi said University Village is popular with graduate students with families because it is close to campus and charges only between $504 and $614 a month for rent.

“That has been a popular living space for graduate and married students, and it is a very, very convenient location and something we have tried over the years to make sure we have maintained it because of demand for it,” Basi said.

The plan estimated it would cost $1 million to demolish and vacate the complex, compared with $28 million to rebuild the structure.

Emails show that in the years after the report, the condition of the walkways was an ongoing concern for university officials, the Tribune reported. Records show a work order was issued last summer to repair a section of concrete on the walkway at Building 707 - where Britt was when he fell - but university officials were unsure what work was completed.


Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, https://www.columbiatribune.com

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