VERNON, Conn. (WTNH) — Debbie MacCoy is leading the fight for condo owners in Connecticut when it comes to crumbling foundations. She’s the state’s lead condo advocate. And new funding from a state lawmaker and researchers from UConn are helping in her fight.
On Thursday, she was able to get a team from UConn to come to her complex — Ryefield Condominiums — and conduct testing for which they’ve received federal money with the help of Connecticut State Rep. Joe Courtney.
“What the University of Connecticut is doing with federal money from The National Institute of Science and Technology is beginning that much more intensive science-based process so that we can evaluate much better than we are today what the level of risk is in a given home,” said Rep. Courtney. “The scientists at UConn with their colleagues in Washington at the National Institute of Science and Technology have worked out a terrific plan to test with a system that’s much more cost-effective, much more accurate.”
UConn is testing to better detect pyrrhotite, one of the most common minerals that cause those large cracks in basement walls.
Some people call Vernon the “epicenter” of the crumbling foundation crisis in Connecticut. MacCoy says 369 homeowners in Vernon have applied for assistance to repair and save their homes.
The mayor of Vernon told News 8 how tough this has been on homeowners in his town.
“The fear that people have that their house is going to fall down on them,” said Mayor Dan Champagne.
MacCoy says one of the reasons she became personally-invested in trying to raise awareness among condo owners and fighting for them to be able to get aid to do testing for pyrrhotite was because the issue hit close-to-home for her, literally.
“We just learned last August that my daughter’s home is effected,” MacCoy said. “We learned on the day we brought home her twin baby girls from the NICU…… I dropped to my knees and started crying.”
MacCoy received good news from the UConn crews — no pyrrhotite detected in tests taken at her complex two weeks ago. She says without this aid money coming for testing, her condo complex and others wouldn’t be able to test at all.
“What Congressman Courtney’s funding has done is the first steps in wrapping our arms around deleterious materials such as pyrrhotite,” MacCoy said. “What UConn is doing is the first steps for our condo to get the answers we have been seeking but couldn’t afford to find them. This mutual symposium will benefit homeowners, realtors/housing market, and the towns as well as our state and perhaps the country. We are moving forward and that’s a good thing.”
UConn conducted Thursday’s testing for free.