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Is the Rest of the Parking Deck Safe?

Tuesday's collapse of part of the Woodbridge Crossing strip mall's parking deck is raising concerns about the safety of the rest of the structure.


It may be months before the cause of the sudden at the renovated store where the was to open this fall may be known. The corner of the deck, upon which was a forklift and a van, pancaked down onto the lower part of the parking garage Tuesday, August 21, leaving officials and building authorities baffled as to what happened.

No one was injured in the incident. But the collapse has also raised concerns about whether the rest of the parking deck at the Woodbridge Crossing strip mall is safe.

Trying to find out, though, who is in charge of investigating the cause of the parking deck collapse isn't easy.

It appears that the NJ Division of Community Affairs (DCA) is responsible for inspecting parking decks in the state. 

Town has no responsibility for deck

Woodbridge Township spokesman John Hagerty said that the local government doesn't have responsibility for overseeing the parking structure, which is a separate entity from the retail store it was once connected to.

"The owner-operator was retaining structural engineers and having an engineering review of the facility to check its structural integrity and any potential cause of the collapse," Hagerty said. "We had an inspector over there yesterday [after the collapse]. 

"We do not have structural engineers. We don't have the capability, nor is it our responsibility."

The township's building inspectors have been on site through the renovation of the store, which was a high-end retail store owned by Sears that was closed in 2009. Their oversight, though, stops at the doors of the store.

Property manager will do inspection

Sears Holding Corp. still owns the property, which was rented earlier this year to the Burlington Coat Factory. 

Sears spokeswoman Kimberly Freely pointed to Onyx Equities, a Woodbridge-based building management firm as having responsibility for the property. They were handling the investigation into the cause of the collapse, she said.

The property manager assigned to the store refused to give her name or comment for this story. A receptionist at the company passed along a statement from an Onyx manager when questioned again about the collapse.

"It's not been resolved yet. We have no comment," the receptionist said.

DCA did not respond by press time about the state's role in investigating the deck collapse in time for this story.

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Tom Maras August 23, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Part 1 of 2 First and foremost, it is truly fortunate that no one was killed or injured in this incident. Had the collapsed occurred during the much heralded and highly anticipated opening of the Burlington Coat Factory, or anytime thereafter, such a structural collapse could have been catastrophic. The coming of the Burlington Coat Factory, like that of Red Robins, which just opened in the Center, and the planned 2013 opening of Boscov’s, which is scheduled to occupy the old Fortunoff’s store, are an essential part of the township’s efforts to attract businesses into stores that have stood empty for far too long. It is hoped the establishment of these highly recognized enterprises will serve as a beacon that attracts more businesses and customers into Woodbridge Township. Given the importance to the economic wellbeing of the township, and as a matter of public safety, would it not be in the best interest of the township to ensure that it receives certifications from competent authorities that both the entire parking deck and the former Great Indoors building are structural sound.
Tom Maras August 23, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Part 2 of 2 As to Woodbridge township’s spokesman, John Hagerty’s statement, "We do not have structural engineers. We don't have the capability, nor is it our responsibility’”, one must wonder why the township inspectors were even send to the site. Moreover, if the township truly lacks such important inspection capabilities, how was the township able to give Sansone Automall in Avenel, NJ, approval on its three (3) store parking garage and other buildings a few years ago? Again, as a matter of public safety, and for public peace of mind, the township must, I feel, be able to state, without any equivocation, all the structures at the Woodbridge Center Mall are safe. If, in order to be able to make such a statement the township as to employ outside architectural and/or structural engineering consultants, let them do so. The cost could be paid for from the township’s “Pilot Program” coffers. The township’s hopes for furthering its economic recovery may well rest on how well it responses on this matter.
So Much to Say August 23, 2012 at 02:48 PM
I will not take any chances with my safety. Woodbridge has no quarms about taking money from businesses and taxpayers and NOT affording safeguards to protecting both. It's all about the MONEY!!! WAKE UP VOTERS!!!!!!!
OFFICIAL BUSINESS August 23, 2012 at 02:57 PM
township truly lacks inspectors that no what they are doing, after living 23 years at Wyndmoor the township showed its true colors when this place was built back in 1982, building sewer lines undersized, all buildings are different, either 4" or 6". brick walls falling off of condos, missing clips. halfass repairs done by contractors that support the little league. the township is better off getting an outside firm to do all the inspections.
slyfox1961 August 23, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Woodbridge Center Mall Tom? This collapse did not happen in Woodbridge Center Mall. Did you not read the article clearly? A State Agency has responsibility for the approval and inspection of parking decks. The Township does not need to make any statements regarding its safety. End of story. Stop trying to drag the mayor into everything. First you question why they sent an inspector to the site unnecessarily, then you demand they do something. You make no sense, but we all know your agenda by now. You are totally transparent.
Tom Maras August 23, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Hey Foxxy, was that a paid political announcement. So I called it the Woodbridge Center Mall. It is a well known point of reference and one the press, like the AP (http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local/new_jersey&id=8782047) and other news services used as well. So, if the township doesn't have to make statements about "safety", why did they? Why did they send, by their on admission, inspectors to the site of this incident? As far as dragging the poor mayor into everything, he has no problem taking credit for all the 'good' he claims he does; but God forbid anyone mention his excellency's name in anything that fails to praise him. Watch the August 21st town council meeting and hear him boasting about all the 'ribbon cutting' ceremonies he and his cronies have been doing around town. Perhaps, it is about time he and his learned that with "ownership" comes responsibility! On that subject, who did the original inspections on the Great Indoors building and its parking deck. Does the township have those inspection records. If not, who issued the original COO? As far as transparency is concerned, why don't you admit you are Mac's Hag or, at least, one of his hacks. Of course, if you really believed in transparency, you would tell us your real name. But it is so much safer in the fox whole, isn't Foxxy!

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