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When Gerard Touhey of Water Features by Gerard located in Easton, Pennsylvania gives you a call to build with him in Florida, you say YES! Then you say wait, where? Key West is the southernmost tip of the Continental United States and only 3 ft. above sea level! Nothing to worry about with that right, wrong!
Gerard traveled to Key West to talk with the client on Shark Key, a private island, to start the design and gather information while making videos and drinking Jameson with James! Important calculations on the Guinness requirements were also made, and Gerard also traveled to the stone yard to hand select the Pennsylvania stones, which reminded the client of his hometown natural waterfalls!
But, how do you transport those large stones to Key West?
Collaborative builds in our industry can be extremely effective and are a lot of fun if proper planning is in place!
Figuring out the logistics to ship 50 tons of Pennsylvania boulders and other native Pennsylvania stones to the southernmost point, with weight restrictions, was quite a feat. Then, there’s the Atlantic-Oase components needed shipping, including a baby grand piano and a large bronze 6 ft. tall statue. And a special thanks to Joe Carver of Oak Canyon Stone and Jeff Weemhoff of Atlantic-Oase for all their help in getting materials shipped to the site; and fountain features that Gerard personally drove to their Ohio-based manufacturing facility.
My next steps were to call the Florida-based Pond Monster, Lloyd Lightsey, to have him join Gerard, myself and my brother, Tony Lenox in Key West! When you’re doing a monster-sized water feature, you should always consider having The Pond Monster involved! Lloyd was a great help with questions on soil type and groundwater issues in relation to excavation equipment and hydraulic relief requirements below the reservoirs. He also is a Jedi Master with plumbing configurations!
Collaborative builds in our industry can be extremely effective and are a lot of fun if proper planning is in place! There are always unforeseen issues that arise and, believe me, there were a few to say the least! When you need a corrugated drain tile in Key West and they never even heard of it, that can be a huge problem. We used Sunbelt Rentals for the excavator and a local landscaper provided a very temperamental Bobcat Wheeled Skidsteer that required pillow talk each night for it to be ready the next morning.
Having skilled people involved along with helpful suppliers makes a tremendous difference when performing out of state projects. Going over details with collaborative contractors like Gerard and Lloyd, retail suppliers like Alexander Castro and Johnny Velazquez of Koi Smart in West Palm Beach, stone suppliers like Joe Carver of Oak Canyon and manufactures like Atlantic-Oase make all the difference. We ran into these challenges: getting everything ordered correctly, thoughts on weight restricted trucking across multiple bridges, hurricane storm forces, building at 3-ft. above sea level, and Iguanas.
Did I mention Iguanas? In Chicago and Pennsylvania, we have Chipmunks not Iguanas!
This project utilized 72 EcoBloxs, which are used for underground water storage — approx. 2,700 gallons — and five 9000GPH Atlantic-Oase pumps. And five Atlantic-Oase 38” Fast Falls; along with a multitude of other components such as liner, underlayment, color changing lights etc.
No matter the brand components used or the suppliers selected, it’s absolutely essential to select the right people to assist you in creating projects in Key West or any state for that matter. I call it “Living the Pond Life and Lifestyle!”