8 On Your Side: Woman can’t get straight answer about growing hole in backyard

PORT RICHEY, Fla.  (WFLA) –- A Tampa Bay area woman has turned to 8 On Your Side for help after seeing a hole growing right outside her back porch.backyardhole2

Fran Hager said the hole started out the size of a football and it turned into a hole about 25 feet wide by 10 feet deep. She claims management at the Windtree Apartments is just trying to put a Band-Aid on the problem.

News Channel 8 wanted to know if people like Fran and her neighbors are safe? One county official told 8 On Your Side it’s safe “as long as” they stay away from the area but that could be tough because it’s right next to a building, the shuffleboard court, and a pool.

When we asked Fran Hager what’s wrong with the situation, she said, “This is a safety hazard for everyone around here.”

She was standing just feet away from her apartment that she shares with her fiance and 3-year-old son. She said it keeps her awake at night.

Fran says it started out small about six months ago and has been growing ever since. Management, on the other hand, says not so fast. They say the ground opened up about a month ago about the size of an office desk.  That’s when they say they called a company to dig up the hole and found the reason for it opening up.

backyardhole4A broken pipe is to blame. The company digging it up is the reason why the hole is so big now, management said over the phone. Fran’s not buying it.

When asked if she was satisfied with management’s response, Fran said, “No.  I’m not.  Because I don’t feel like they’re answering my questions.  You tell me it’s a leaking drainage pipe but the Earth keeps opening, makes no sense to me and I’m sorry.  I don’t see why a leaking drainage pipe would be open for six months.”

A county official told News Channel 8 that it’s not a sinkhole but a utility issue .

The official said it appears a culvert leaves the county road and crosses the apartment complex to a pond. The complex seems to have tied into that culvert and the pipe has failed just after the tie-in. The plans are archived on microfilm and they are trying to recover them to get a detailed look at the property’s infrastructure.

It has not been determined who is responsible for the pipe. If the county is responsible, it could be at least a year before they even look at it because of budgetary constraints. If the management company is responsible, they told News Channel 8 they would have a crew out to fix the problem by next week.

“I don’t know if I’m going to be able to wake up without my building falling in,” Fran said.

The county is working to temporarily fill the hole to keep people safe.

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