Heaven’s foun­da­tion poured

Lodi News-Sentinel - - RELIGION - By Joe Gold­een RECORD STAFF WRITER

STOCK­TON — Heaven’s foun­da­tion was poured Tues­day in south­east Stock­ton.

The 116-foot-di­am­e­ter round mat slab of con­crete is enough to sup­port a high-rise build­ing, but at 74 feet, 11 inches above ground when com­pleted, the struc­ture tech­ni­cally will qual­ify as a mid-rise.

When it’s done in a decade or so — hope­fully sooner — “Heaven” will reign over the grounds of the Wat Dhar­mararam Bud­dhist Tem­ple com­plex off Car­pen­ter Road in south­east Stock­ton.

It is the dream of Bud­dhist monk Kong Tith and has been in the devel­op­ment and plan­ning stages for more than a decade. A for­mal ground­break­ing was held in March 2011 that in­cluded lo­cal gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and mem­bers of the re­gional Cam­bo­dian com­mu­nity.

Since then, progress on the mas­sive un­der­tak­ing has been slow as the tem­ple raises funds and ob­tains per­mits and ap­provals al­low­ing con­struc­tion of the one-of-a-kind project to move for­ward.

Tues­day was a “happy day” for Tith and his fel­low monks as they gath­ered around the con­struc­tion site to wit­ness up to 140 ce­ment mix­ers de­liver about 10 yards each, dump­ing their loads into two pump trucks that sent a con­tin­u­ous mix­ture of ce­ment, sand, gravel and wa­ter through a long se­ries of aerial pipes to reach the foun­da­tion.

The con­struc­tion site was buzzing with ap­prox­i­mately 30 la­bor­ers, ce­ment fin­ish­ers and rod busters try­ing to keep up with the de­liv­er­ies.

By the end of the day, the ce­ment mix­ers, mostly from A&A Con­crete, de­liv­ered 1,400 yards of ce­ment, fill­ing in a re­bar-re­in­forced hole 3 feet 6 inches deep. Two batch plants in Stock­ton and Tracy were kept busy re­fill­ing the trucks.

The end re­sult will be a 1,100square-foot con­crete slab weigh­ing an es­ti­mated 322,000 pounds, ac­cord­ing to gen­eral con­trac­tor Don Gor­don with Mag Gen­eral En­gi­neer­ing Inc. of Wil­ton.

“A mat slab (foun­da­tion) is not unique, but the de­sign of this build­ing is very unique. It will be like a pyra­mid cov­ered in stat­ues weigh­ing 100 to 250 pounds each, with an el­e­va­tor in the mid­dle to get to the top floor,” Gor­don said.

The stat­ues, all to be cre­ated by Tith, will sur­round a grand stair­case to the top floor.

“It’s the path to heaven,” Tith said. As con­struc­tion pro­gresses, Tith en­vi­sions one floor hous­ing a school for chil­dren, an­other serv­ing as a mu­seum and a third pro­vid­ing space for a li­brary.

“On top will be a school for ev­ery­body’s ed­u­ca­tion,” Tith said. “Any per­son in the na­tion can come and med­i­tate on the top floor. Any prob­lem they have, they can come med­i­tate and come study the law and re­li­gion and learn how to un­der­stand each other.

“We want ev­ery­body to be happy and en­joy the place — clear your mind and be peace­ful.”

CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD

Con­crete work­ers lay the mas­sive foun­da­tion Tues­day for Heaven, a unique struc­ture that will some­day rise five sto­ries above the grounds of the Wat Dhar­mararam Bud­dhist Tem­ple off Car­pen­ter Road in south­east Stock­ton.

Gen­eral con­trac­tor Daniel Gor­don with Mag Gen­eral En­gi­neer­ing Inc. of Wil­ton, left, talks with Bud­dhist monk Kong Tith and head monk Kuch Pum, who holds a draw­ing of Heaven as the foun­da­tion is poured on what is ex­pected to be a 10-year project.

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