Ledger Inquirer: Sinkhole repaired, but curb gets totaled in the process

March 31, 2013 

Concerned Reader Bill Chester owns waterfront property on Cherokee Drive.

He's in one of those homes whose driveways are bridges across Weracoba Creek, and like so many homeowners in that stretch, they've had problems with erosion over the years.

Chester's problems started in 2009, when a sinkhole developed in the right of way between the street and the creek. He called the city and they apparently called the Water Works, because every now and then, a Water Works dump truck would come by and fill in the hole.

"Naturally, it was just a temporary fix," Chester wrote. "Each time there was a major rain event, the hole would reappear and the new hole was wider and deeper than its predecessors."

Finally, after about three years of this, the hole had grown to about six feet wide and eight feet deep.

"You could lose a fifth-grader in it," he wrote.

Now, I've met a couple of fifth-graders over the years for whom that would have been a fine option. But that's not the point here.

Around that time, Chester was playing golf with a friend of his, who happens to be Columbus Councilor Skip Henderson, and he mentioned the chasm in front of his house.

Next thing you know, a Water Works crew of eight men and two backhoes appears and does a permanent repair on the problem.

Great story, Bill, but why are you writing to me with it? You ought to be buying Skip a beer instead.

Well, it turns out one of the backhoes did a number on a sec

tion of curbing next to his driveway. Obliterated it. Not only does it look like crap, but it also allows rainwater to flow through the gap, which could start the erosion problem all over again.

I'm not sure why the Water Works was repairing the sinkhole. Maybe it was being caused by a broken water or sewer line. Whatever the reason, it's the city that is responsible for maintaining curbing and gutters, so we'll call them.

Pat Biegler, director of public works, said if the Water Works was doing the work, it probably was linked to a water or sewer pipe problem.

She said she would send a city crew out to assess the curb problem and she would do some investigating to see who was responsible for it. The city will repair the curb, because that's the city's job. But if the Water Works caused the problem, they'll get a bill for the work.

Does Biegler have a cool job or what? Wouldn't you love to be able to send bills to a utility instead of checks?


Finally, we have some progress to report concerning the Valley Crest subdivision, where a big hill is sliding down into some folks' backyards.

Chuck Ford, who is the Ford in Page, Scrantom, Sprouse, Tucker and Ford, called to report that he sent an offer to Sgt. Cornelia Johnson and her neighbors, whose backyards are being inundated by a landslide off a steep hill behind their houses.

Ford was writing on behalf of Woodruff Contracting Co., which built Johnson's house, and Ward Grading Co., which did the grading for the subdivision. The letter includes an offer of $5,000 from each company to help repair the problem and some advice suggesting Johnson contact a company that is holding a homebuyers insurance policy on the home. Not homeowners insurance, homebuyer's insurance, Ford told me. It's something Woodruff takes out for the buyers of homes they build, he said.

Between the $10,000 and the insurance company, maybe the good folks of Valley Crest can get their backyards back. We'll see.

Seen something that needs attention? Contact me at 706-571-8570 or mowen@ledger-enquirer.com.

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