Commonwealth Journal

Local News

August 29, 2013

Sinkhole generates questions of liability

City researching who should repair it

Somerset —

You could say Pete and Ruth Wronikowski have gone to every length to prevent flooding issues at their downtown Somerset residence.
The couple, who have resided at 135 N. Richardson Drive for around two years, have drain grids in front of their driveway and front yard to help keep water run-off from inundating the property after a heavy rain. Their garage is up on cement blocks. Their back yard has a retaining wall, which has been there for several decades and since before their ownership of the house. 
“We’ve done all we can,” said Ruth Wronikowski on Wednesday. 
But several times a year, after any significant rainfall, the Wronikowskis deal with flooding behind their home. Pete Wronikowski said around 33 acres of water flows behind their home, thanks to a city drainage ditch that collects water from higher elevations above the house. The house sits in the bottom of a natural basin. When rain falls, water flows from all sides — from Vine and Oak streets, and Limestone Street. 
Pete Wronikowski said he speaks with the city’s maintenance department several times a year. The city works to clear the drainage ditch of debris — although the Wronikowskis said they’ve done that themselves as well. The Wronikowskis said the city will usually make sure a large drainage grid the water flows down into stays uncovered in preparation for rain. 
But last week, Pete Wronikowski discovered a sinkhole in his back yard while mowing, and he called the city to ask what could be done about the situation. The sinkhole, the Wronikowskis said, may be a direct result of the May 2010 floods that left water all the way up to the back door of their home. 
And the floods, the Wronikowskis say, are a direct result of the back-up of water that flows down the city’s drainage area. 

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