Sinkhole response: Fence and landscaping?

Pasco County likely will opt to close off a sinkhole that swallowed two houses in Lake Padgett Estates with a fence and landscaping, to mimic, as much as possible, the appearance of a retention pond.

Consultants say that other options, including rebuilding Ocean Pines Drive, would risk additional environmental damage.

Consultants also recommend against building cul-de-sacs near the sinkhole, which Pasco County officials had hoped garbage trucks and emergency vehicles could use.

Instead, the county will determine if a “hammerhead” turn-around would be feasible if it is placed on an easement next to a residence, but at a safe distance from the sinkhole.

A sinkhole on Ocean Pines Drive in Lake Padgett Estates opened up in July 2017 and swallowed two houses. (File)

Kevin Guthrie, assistant county administrator for public safety, outlined those recommendations at a recent workshop with the Pasco County Commission.

No decision has been made yet, and Guthrie plans to meet with area residents to review the consultant’s report.

If the county installs the fence and landscaping, Ocean Pines would remain closed off at the site of the sinkhole.

On one side of the sinkhole, it would retain its current name. The other side would be renamed.

Estimates on fencing and landscaping were pegged at about $50,000 during an October workshop to review options.

According to consultants, rebuilding the roadway with sheet piles driven underground would create strong vibrations and risk unsettling the sinkhole and surrounding areas.

At any time, even 20 years into the future, the road could collapse, Guthrie said.

“We may put people in danger by doing so,” he said. “Even to put a cul-de-sac, we may do more harm to the environment.”

The sinkhole opened on July 14, 2017, at 21825 Ocean Pines Drive. It eventually swallowed two houses, a motorcycle and a boat.

Seven additional houses have been condemned as unsafe.

The county approved $1.3 million for initial cleanup and stabilization of the site.

At an October workshop, county commissioners had reviewed a range of options.

  • Build a fence around the sinkhole with a cul-de-sac on each side, at an estimated cost of $1.7 million
  • Connect the sinkhole to Lake Saxon with a cul-de-sac to each side of the lake, at a cost of $2.5 million
  • Rebuild Ocean Pines Drive, which runs between the sinkhole, at a cost of $800,000

Published February 7, 2018

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