July 21 (UPI) — Survivors of the collapsed 12-story oceanfront condominium in Surfside, Fla., appeared in court for the first time Wednesday and offered differing opinions on how or whether to rebuild on the site.
No consensus on how to proceed was apparent as condo owners and family members who survived the June 24 partial collapse of Champlain Towers South testified during a civil court hearing before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman.
Some of the condo owners are seeking to work with a developer to rebuild the tower on the same site, but others told the court they could not bear to live again on the spot of the tragedy, where 97 bodies were pulled from the rubble, all but two of which have been identified.
Those in favor of redeveloping the site sought to convince Hanzman to let work proceed, WPLG-TV reported.
“It’s an opportunity to live in an area like that that doesn’t come around very often and to replace it now for a lot of these owners will be almost mission impossible, considering where home prices are, especially beachfront property,” condo owner Oren Cytrynbaum said.
Others, however, said the property held too many disturbing memories.
“I personally could never live in a building [there] — that is a gravesite,” former resident Raysa Rodriguez testified, according to the Miami Herald.
Despite the lack of consensus, Hanzman ruled out suggestions the survivors could be asked to donate the site for use as a memorial or a park, CNN reported.
Regardless of “the views of some people who are not victims, this court’s task and your task is to compensate the victims of this tragedy, period,” Hanzman said.
The hearing came as new images showed that nearly all of the more than 22 million pounds of debris has been cleared away, leaving a yawning, empty space.