A few years ago one Hawaii-based couple made the bold decision to move to Detroit. But, unfortunately for them, it wasn’t destined to be a smooth transition. It all started with a phone call to a contractor who told them something which made their jaws drop.
Kim and Terry Bollman had been living on the Hawaiian coast when they decided to move from the Aloha State. They choose Detroit, Michigan, as their next destination and started looking for houses. Eventually they bought one that had been a little neglected.
Although the Bollmans knew that the house would take some fixing up, there was one element of the property that they were particularly excited about; the swimming pool. The couple even had visions of the grandchildren coming over to enjoy it.
Within a month of buying the property, the Detroit-bound couple called up a firm of contractors asking them to secure their swimming pool for them. However, the company then told the Bollmans something that they simply couldn’t believe.
The couple were stunned to be informed that their pool no longer existed. The reality was that it had been filled in without their knowledge, and City Hall was behind it. It had all started with a complaint from a member of the community.
The Bollmans’ swimming pool had been branded a safety hazard, so contractors were sent to fill it in. But no one told the new homeowners about it. Speaking to WXYZ-TV Detroit in July 2015, Terry Bollman appeared bewildered. He explained that the couple were aware of only a few things that needed to be done to the property.
“We knew that the fence needed some repair and the pool needed to be pumped out,” he told the reporter. However, after learning that the pool had disappeared entirely, he accused the local authorities of going “overboard.” And he’s not the only person to think that.
Kevin Bradley saw what was going on at the Bollmans’ house on the day the pool was filled in. He also expressed his concerns to WXYZ-TV News. Bradley recalled seeing the contractors using discarded bits of concrete to fill in the pool, junk that Bradley assumed might be from roadwork projects.
And it turned out this wasn’t the first time that local pools had been covered up in an unsatisfactory manner. When a complaint was lodged against another house in the area, plywood was simply laid over the pool.
The main problem for the Bollmans, aside from the fact that their pool had vanished, was that they had no idea what it was filled up with. “We don’t know what’s underneath this cap of clay,” Terry Bollman said, before adding that for all they knew there could be “hazardous material” beneath.
As if that wasn’t enough to get the couple’s blood boiling, there was even more to the story. The Bollmans have said that in the process of improperly filling up their pool, the contractors managed to cause significant damage to their newly acquired property.
WXYZ-TV News reported that the garden fence had been broken. Furthermore, there were also signs of damage to the sidewalk, something which nobody has yet owned up to. “No one wants to take full responsibility for what has been done,” Kim said.
The furore reached the attention of City Hall officials, who sent down a representative to comment on the situation. David Bell, Detroit’s building director, had some additional information to give.
According to Bell, the safety hazard created by the Bollmans’ pool was regarded as an emergency. This is why the homeowners were not informed of the necessary work that needed to be done. “Unfortunately, the city does not have the luxury to track down the owners in an emergency situation,” he said.
Bell backed up his point by saying that the situation required “immediate action,” but the reporter wasn’t convinced by his statement. That’s because the initial neighborhood complaint was lodged in June 2014, and the pool was only filled in during the summer of 2015.
The reporter questioned Bell’s meaning of “immediate action,” given that it took about a year to act upon the neighbor’s grievance. But the City Hall official fought back. Bell insisted that by the time the issue came to his attention, the action was indeed carried out immediately.
People online didn’t react well to Bell’s comments. Indeed, some went as far as calling the city government “incompetent.” Meanwhile, others questioned what the Bollmans were expecting when moving to a state that is well-known for having its bureaucratic troubles.
However, Bell did concede that the filling-in job was not carried out in the manner that would be expected. Consequently, he has vowed to look into what exactly happened to the Bollmans’ pool. WXYZ-TV News also promised to keep pushing for answers.
Meanwhile, cynics had plenty of things to say about the Bollmans. Many people couldn’t believe that anyone would move from the sun-soaked paradise of Hawaii to Detroit. One person even said that the couple’s “first mistake” was making such a rogue decision.
The Bollmans were unmoved, though. They insisted that their main intention behind moving to the state was to be a “part of rebuilding neighborhoods.” Let’s hope that this negative beginning doesn’t put them off contributing to their community in a positive way in the future.