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Surfside Commission Rejects Land Swap For Condo Collapse Site

SURFSIDE (CBSMiami) – Surfside Commissioners have rejected a land swap proposal that would have lead to a new Community Center being built at the site of the collapse of Champlain Towers South along with a memorial for the victims.

But loved ones still hold out hope that a memorial will be built at the site of the disaster where 98 people lost their lives on June 24th.

Martin Langesfeld lost his 26-year-old sister Nicole Langesfeld and brother-in-law Luis Sadovnic just 6 months after they were married when the building collapsed at 88th street and Collins Avenue.

He told CBS4's Peter D'Oench "My sister and brother-in-law meant everything to me. I need to see a memorial. It's the only way to respect the 98 lives lost and this would mean the entire world to me and others who lost loved ones. It would be so painful to see anything built on the site other than a memorial."

Langesfeld attended a meeting Tuesday night where there were some emotional moments in Front of Surfside Commissioners as loved ones pleaded for a memorial.

In recent weeks, a Judge overseeing the fallen towers said he would consider a land swap to facilitate a memorial as long as the town agreed to relocate its Community Center to make way for a luxury condo.

The community center is located at 93rd street and Collins Avenue. The proposal would have meant that the Center would have to be torn down to make way for the new condo.

Commissioner Eliana Salzhauer said, "This is not acceptable to the residents of Surfside. We are very much in support of the victims and survivors and want to see them succeed but it is not going to be at the expense if the entire Surfside community. The entire Surfside community is not responsible for what happened at the site and should not have to give up the heart and soul of the community."

"The obvious solution is that the land of Champlain Towers is owned by the survivors and by the families. It is the landowners. Nobody says they have to sell the whole thing. If more people care about the memorial than the profits they can portion off a silver of land for the memorial."

Some loved ones viewed the proposed land swap as way of compensating victims' families.

Commissioners are looking into ways to build a memorial at the site or at another location. Langesfeld insists it should be on the site.

Mayor Charles Burkett said the issue should go to a referendum so voters can decide.

"It makes sense to me to put it on the ballot," he said. "I have said publicly that I don't see how this is good for both sides, the swap. I am unclear on how it helps both sides but it should be on the ballot. I urge people to continue to work for the best solution."

Salzhauer said she did not think the land swap proposal would ever make it to a referendum.

Langesfeld said, "If that idea does not work then we need to come together as a community and the community and Surfside need to help us out and see what other options there are for the memorial."

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