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Pasco Might Fence Off Sinkhole Permanently

Mark Schreiner
WUSF Public Media
A map showing, through processed drone imagery, a Pasco County sinkhole as seen in July 2017. The darker homes on the left and right are taken from images before the sinkhole opened.

There is a possible repair solution for the Pasco County sinkhole that destroyed two homes last summer.

The Board of County Commissioners and the Public Safety office are leaning towards a decorative fence, the least expensive and safest option.

On July 14, 2017, a large sinkhole opened up in the Lake Padgett Estates neighborhood in Land O’ Lakes. It swallowed two homes and seven more were condemned.

After discussing many other options, Kevin Guthrie, the Assistant County Administrator of Public Safety for Pasco County, proposed putting up a fence. The cost, estimated at $50,000, is considerably cheaper than other proposals that ranged from $800,000 to $12 million. 

“There [is] really only one solution and that would be to put road closed signs at the sinkhole point, put a fence around it, put landscaping around the fence and walk away from it,” explained Guthrie.

Other proposals included turning the space into a recreation park or building a bridge over the hole.

Commissioners previously looked at restoring or repurposing the site, but that would also involve the costly efforts of rerouting roads or acquiring environmental permits.

Costs aside, Guthrie said, these plans are too unsafe to come to fruition. The ground is still unstable and construction could cause more damage to the environment.

However, Guthrie said, there still may be some construction in the area. 

“The board of county commissioners has asked us to once again reconfirm with our consultants and see if there’s any way we can put in what is referred to as a hammerhead intersection,” he explained. 

This intersection would allow for public safety vehicles, school buses and garbage trucks to make three point turns rather than being stuck in a dead-end road.

There’s not currently a planned date for the work to be done as Guthrie has to present the plans to the public at two more community meetings.

As of right now, five residents of Lake Padgett Estates have reached out to Guthrie regarding the fence decision. Two have exclaimed that they do not believe the findings were correct, the other three were appreciative of what the county is trying to do.

After hearing the public’s response, he will take it to the Board of County Commissioners along with a decision on the hammerhead intersection and on a budget.

“Hopefully maybe by the late spring, early summer we would be in a position where we can actually get this sinkhole issue resolved with a fence around it and then again whether or not we’ll be able to put in those hammerhead intersections,” Guthrie said. “I think they will start to return to a way of normalcy, hopefully by late summer, early fall.”

Bethany Hanson is a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news reporter for spring 2018.
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