MERIDEN — Easter egg hunting was interrupted for a Liberty Street family this past April when a sinkhole opened in their backyard, causing a tree to crash into their home and damaging a vehicle in the driveway.
“All you hear is a ‘boom,’ ” said Doris Hernandez, one of 10 residents of 170 Liberty St., including five children. “This is dangerous when you have kids. You don’t know when the whole house is going to go down.”
The city’s Department of Public Works is now working with her landlord to stabilize the growing sinkhole, which is estimated to be around 16 feet deep. The issue appears to have been caused by the collapse of a slab on top of a private culvert built over Jordan Brook, which has been covered and channeled by property owners, said Public Works Director Howard Weissberg.
City workers have been out to the home at least three times to shore up the ground with rocks and soil and Weissberg wants to get engineers to the sinkhole to design a permanent solution. He’s confident the 150-year-old culvert, not soil conditions, is causing the problem and once repaired will hold firm. He does not believe there is danger to the home but wants the problem solved quickly.
“We want to shore up the hole and house so we can excavate to remove” the slab, Weissberg said.
A representative of property owner Dockside Construction Services, who only provided his first name, said as long as the sinkhole remains exposed, it will pose a danger to children who congregate around the hole.
“You have a big, dangerous situation and the city seems to be ignoring,” or not taking it seriously, said the employee, who identified himself as David. “It’s getting progressively worse. When it’s raining, this is caving in.”