Although there are many reasons why the proposed project for replacing the Sergeant Jasper on Broad Street should not be built, there is one overwhelming reason that I have not heard addressed: earthquake preparedness. Considering local construction of almost any building, certainly any tall building, and emphatically one of 20 stories, should never happen without thorough investigation and inclusion of the best earthquake amelioration practices available.
The Japanese have done a great deal of intelligent research on earthquake amelioration in all kinds of buildings, including tall ones. Elaborate and expensive hydraulics, plates and rollers are involved, none of which has been suggested for this project. We cannot responsibly remain in denial about this problem. We are still in the expensive process of rebuilding or retrofitting our public schools — none taller than three stories, I think — so that our schoolchildren might be safeguarded. The taller the building, the more damage in any earthquake, and because the entire Sergeant Jasper site is landfill, which becomes like Jello in a quake, the enormous danger is evident.
The 1886 earthquake destroyed or made uninhabitable 85 percent of the masonry buildings in the city. None of those buildings was taller than about three stories. All of the taller local buildings cited for comparison to this project were built after 1886, so it is quite safe to guess that they all would have been either destroyed or seriously damaged in that or any strong earthquake.
When any construction project is being considered, we must remember that our city is located on a major earthquake fault. Ignoring the inevitability of future serious earthquakes and attendant damage in this city would be certainly negligent and possibly criminal.
Maurice H. Thompson