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Disney, residents nearing settlement

Truitt Street homeowners want damages paid for effects of construction.

January 25, 2011|By Bill Kisliuk,

A residential standoff over the Walt Disney Co.'s alleged role in damaging six Truitt Street houses during construction of the studio's child-care center may be drawing to an end.

Disney officials told six concerned homeowners earlier this month that the studio was willing to pay for repairs, but first wanted to review detailed damage estimates and hold one-on-one meetings, according to Truitt Street resident Lureline Kohler and others.

"Nothing's been made right, but the last meeting was the best thing we've gotten so far," Truitt Street resident John Pera said.


Homeowners have claimed that Disney and city officials have been unresponsive to their concerns, but some have already settled with the studio.

In a statement, Disney said it was "encouraged by the progress we've made thus far and will continue to work with the remaining neighbors to amicably resolve their concerns."

The conflict dates to November 2009, when Disney began work on the child-care center on Flower Street between Paula and Davis avenues. Truitt Street borders the facility.

Residents reported feeling the walls of their homes shake while earthmovers were at work, and complained of noise, long construction hours and parking and traffic disruptions. Residents held a tense meeting with city and Disney officials in mid-October in an effort to air their grievances.

Several residents filed insurance claims shortly thereafter. They said that they needed to file the reports to preserve the validity of their insurances claims, and that they were advised not to allow Disney's experts in before getting their own assessments.

Separately, Truitt Street resident Shara Versweyveld said she and three other homeowners let Disney officials inspect their homes before accepting cash offers. She declined to name the amounts.

"We were satisfied with the way they handled things," Versweyveld said.

Pera, who remains wary of Disney's efforts after months of frustration, and others say insurance inspectors have come to their homes, and they are waiting on final estimates. Truitt residents say Pera's home is perhaps the most severely damaged, with dozens of cracks to his garage floor, walls and driveway.

At the meeting with Disney, Pera said company officials tentatively offered to pay some repair costs, which residents estimated at about $120,000. But he said Disney rejected prior claims for "quality-of-life impact" payments — stemming from noise, dust and construction-related traffic and parking problems — of $8,000 to $11,000 per resident.

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