The homeowners who were forced out of their Maspeth house by a collapsing basement wall on Friday think the damage could be tied to a sinkhole in the street on 58th Road, but city agencies say the family is on its own for effecting repairs and making the building safe again.
Sean and Danielle Maher have owned 69-11 58 Road for just over three years. Danielle Maher, her toddler daughter and four tenants were forced to flee the building Friday afternoon as the eastern wall to their basement first cracked then collapsed.
Inspectors with the Department of Buildings on Friday afternoon posted evacuation orders on the Mahers’ home and one located across a small walkway at 69-13.
In television interviews this past weekend the Mahers suggested that the troubles could be linked to a large sinkhole in the middle of the street on 58th Road that the city repaired earlier this year.
Danielle Maher in published reports said she stepped in the snow-covered hole this past winter as she carried her daughter.
The hole, which is in front of the house at 69-09 — connected to the Mahers’ home — is almost perfectly round and more than two feet in diameter. It still goes down about three to four inches at its deepest point.
A longtime resident of the block said sinkholes have existed there for some time, including the one in the street in front of 69-09, and been the subject of multiple calls to 311.
An official DEP statement on Monday said only that personnel inspected a sewer line that runs under the street adjacent to the property and that the line was found to be intact and functioning properly.
I sent this story to Steve Major, who alerted the media to the sinkholes in Arverne after Sandy. His response:
I think the families along the series of sinkholes in Arverne Queens are in about the same boat. The city told them it's their problem to resolve as well despite being result of either 1) city water main breaks, or 2) a historic drainage canal not properly backfilled before the land was sold to developers by the city, IMO. No matter the cause, it is certainly not a subsurface condition the homeowners ever knew about and therefore the burden cannot be placed on them. The city is bullying people by not even investigating the cause(s). We the people need to organize everyone in similar situations. This is one of the top projects on the list of The Real Volunteers (TRV) philanthropy programs to help investigate, fix and prove who should be responsible since no one else has helped them... "The Beach 68th St, Averne, NY Sandy Sink Holes Homeowner Advocacy Program - City officials have told the residents on these blocks that each of the whole series of a dozen sinkholes in their yards and under their homes is each individual homeowner’s financial responsibility to repair. These were subsurface conditions (I believe an old municipal drainage canal not properly filled) that the residents could’ve never even known existed beneath their homes. We will contract a civil engineering firm to perform subsurface ultrasounds, exploratory excavations, etc. in order to prove the nature of the cause of the sinkholes and be prepared to testify as to those findings to force the repairs."