Ridgeites cry foul over potential sinkhole sites

August 12, 2015 Meaghan McGoldrick
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Call it déjà vu.

Residents say a depression at 78th Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues could be the next sinkhole to strike Bay Ridge as it has been on the receiving end of what they believe are shoddy repairs for the last few months.

“It started out earlier this year – probably around February or so – as just your regular minor pothole and then it got worse and worse,” said neighbor Laurence Lankton. “About two months ago [the Department of Transportation (DOT)] threw a little dirt on it and called it a day. A couple of days later, it was worse than ever.”

Since then, he said, he’s called 311 more times than he can count.

“I’m concerned somebody’s going to get very, very hurt,” said Lankton, referencing a rash of sinkholes that struck the neighborhood in 2012, beginning with a massive opening that swallowed the better part of 92nd Street and Third Avenue in June of that year.

When reached for comment, the DOT referred this paper to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) which, as of Tuesday, August 11, was on scene and investigating an adjacent neighbor’s utilities as a possible root of the issue.

“DEP used a remote TV camera to inspect the city sewer in this area and found it to be operating properly with no breaks in the pipe,” said a DEP spokesperson on Monday, August 10, one day prior to the scheduled home inspection. Following the survey, the same source told this paper that workers found the homeowner’s private service line to be defective.

According to DEP, an order has been issued to the homeowner to have both the service line and the surrounding roadway repaired.

“It’s very frustrating for the residents who see these locations and report them only for them to be filled in and then cave in again,” said Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, noting that “that particular location was called in a number of times.”

With memories of the Sunset Park sinkhole still fresh in their minds, members of the board penned a letter to DOT with a list of 14 sites – 78th Street included – they fear the worst for, and hope to see fixed.

“In the case of the Sunset Park sinkhole, if you [look at] Google Earth, you can see the actual outline of the sinkhole from the street defects that were [there] a year ago,” said Beckmann. “We have a number of locations in Board 10 that match that description, and we thought it was a good time to put those together for DOT.”

The locations include: 13th Avenue between 71st and 72nd Streets; 13th Avenue at Bay Ridge Parkway; 76th Street and 13th Avenue; 14th Avenue between 70th and 71st Street; 12th Avenue at Bay Ridge Avenue (near P.S. 176); 12th Avenue at 70th Street; 12th Avenue and 71st Street; 72nd Street at 12th Avenue; 63rd Street at Ninth Avenue; 63rd Street between Ninth Avenue and Fort Hamilton Parkway; 78th Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues; 76th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues; and the intersection of 14th Avenue and 70th Street.

All sites, Beckmann said, have already been referred to DEP for inspection but the agency found no underlying water or sewer issues.

“A bunch of these streets keep depressing and re-depressing, caving in and re-caving in,” she went on. “What we need to figure out is: what is the problem and who – whether it’s DOT, DEP, or another city agency – is going to be handling it?”

Photo courtesy of Laurence Lankton
Photo courtesy of Laurence Lankton


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