Monday, November 3, 2014

Maspeth & Arverne homeowners may be in similar predicament

From the Queens Chronicle:

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."


Joe said...

I remember my grandfathers house having a natural spring creel running diagonally across the cellar on 142 George street between Wilson and Knickerbocker.
They had to level all those buildings in the 70s. I'm sure Maspeth has them springs also who knows what Boss Tweed did back in the day.

Anonymous said...

Why should the rest of the city bail out developers who built over a stream? If the current residents got screwed by some developer let them sue for damages.

Anonymous said...

"...who knows what Boss Tweed did back in the day."

Hate to tell you but Boss Tweed was dead and buried twenty years before Queens became part of Greater NY.

Anonymous said...

Boos Tweed-WHOEVER was taking bribes regarding those Maspeth houses were built. 1940s ?

Christina Wilkinson said...

I lived 2 doors down from that house growing up. The block was built in 1925 and there were no ponds or streams in the vicinity. It's on an elevation.

Anonymous said...

The houses were probably built in the mid to late 1920's.
Back in the 1800's that area was know as Columbusville and was populated by farms. I would tend to believe that nothing nefarious happened than that is causing the sink holes now.
sometimes shit just happens.

Anonymous said...

There's been a sinkhole in that vicinity (in the road) since the 1990s.

Joe said...

1920s Crappy ?
Could very well be a asphalt pipe that collapsed years ago. Hand snaking and tree roots can also puncture these soft pipes. I remember my uncle telling me with these houses the water from the roof is sloped to come down in the rear of the house, then make a "L" turn under the rear yard drain (usually under a back porch then another "L" turn down and under the driveway along the foundation to the storm water conduit that makes its way to the east river or creek. 495s downspouts also share this conduit.
Sometimes you come home to a nasty surprise in the basement . Asphalt pipe was commonly used with these 1/2 detached houses with driveways

Anonymous said...

As a plumber of 20 years ,Ive seen this many times where during a hard rainfall small openings in a downspout drain will Expell water into the ground and then drain all the dirt and setiment back down the sewer washing away the ground with no trace. after many years this is usually the result. Joes friend Sonic