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What’s going on with the Public Safety Training Center? Is it being used?

Chris Mazzolini

Parts of it have been used – but parts of it haven’t. And to talk about why, we need to talk about concrete blocks.

The Public Safety Training Center – which cost $10 million and was paid for jointly by New Hanover County, Wilmington and Cape Fear Community College – is located at the college’s North Campus, and contains a classroom building, a vehicle extraction pad, a driving pad, a fire tower, two live burn buildings and other amenities. It opened on Sept. 11, 2008.

Right now, the classrooms and training structures that don’t involve dousing a building in water are being used, said David Hardin, a college spokesman.

The problem is with the structures that are supposed to get wet. Turns out the general contractor who built the structures mistakenly did not include a water-repellent in the concrete bricks. That means the blocks absorb water, which hurts the buildings’ structural integrity. The office of state construction has yet to sign off on using those buildings, Hardin said.

So for the last several months, the contractor (on its dime, not the taxpayers) has been working to resolve the issue by finding a substance that can be added to the bricks to add that water-repellant feature. Hardin said the latest info is that they are close to finding a solution and that they expect the problem to be addressed in one or two months.

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