ARNOLD, Mo. – It’s been nine months since the dramatic collapse of the giant retaining wall off Jeffco Boulevard in Arnold. Repairs are coming, but with a twist – residents are not allowed to see the plans. They are sealed and not for release to the public.
“We can’t find out anything. We’re just kind of left in the dark,” resident Tim Gray said.
Gray and half-a-dozen of his neighbors recently met with a FOX 2 news crew in the shadow of the blowout.
“We were told stay at our own risk. We’ve been staying at our own risk for nine months,” he said.
Last month, they finally heard about a possible repair, but Connie Garrett said they could not get details.
“If I were the one who caused some inconvenience to homeowners, with a wall that I had built and I had a repair that I was proud of, I would want them to see it,” she said. “They’re hiding this repair.”
Arnold leaders saw the repair plans and so has a third party engineer the city hired. Arnold City Manager Bryan Richison said their expert was impressed with not only the repair design, but also what it’s going to cost the owner.
“We believe it’s a good plan and have approved it and have issued a building permit,” Richison said.
Residents remember being told everything would be okay years ago. And when cracks began to appear at the curve of the wall, residents were told it was just cosmetic.
“They assured us it was safe,” Gray said. “It didn’t feel like we were considered and then what they said could never happen happened.”
So why should they believe the city this time?
“That’s a good question. Some of the differences this time – we
did bring in an outside expert. We did not do that on the initial construction,” Richison said.
Raven Development, Contegra Construction, and the property owner from California brought in a new designer, GeoStabilization International, a company that specializes in emergency landslide repairs and rockfall mitigation.
Thus far FOX 2 has been so far denied requests to see the plans. They’ve been marked proprietary. We asked Richison about that.
“Very unusual,” he said. “I have not dealt with this particular claim of confidentiality in my 20-plus years of local government.”
We then asked for the city expert’s review of the plans. We were told those were only verbal.
A breakthrough came for residents after our earlier interview. They got a meeting with the developer, contractor, and owner, who explained how they will fix the wall.
Jane Konsewicz got a copy of the plans but was warned they are confidential.
“They’re proprietary. We’re not allowed to share them,” she said. “Why would you not want to share the plans? This project from the start has been mysterious. I don’t understand it myself.”
Why has it taken nine months? The project manager told residents that about five insurance companies also hired engineers to look at the repair plans.
We could not get a comment from the developer or owner even with multiple calls, texts, and emails. We do know the plan is to repair and patch the damaged area and not rebuild the collapsed portion. It should get underway any day now.