Commonwealth Journal

Local News

August 29, 2013

Sinkhole generates questions of liability

City researching who should repair it


Somerset —

Pete Wronikowski appeared before Somerset City Council during Monday’s meeting and asked about the status of the situation. 
Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler said the sinkhole has been surveyed, but he said the city is at an impasse and is waiting on word from its insurance company on whether the repairs fall under the city’s responsibility.
 “They were determining whether or not the city had any responsibility for the sinkhole in your yard,” Girdler told Wronikowski during the meeting. 
Girdler said legal questions are raised in the situation because the sinkhole is located on private property, and not on city property. 
“As far as I know, there’s not much we can do on a sinkhole on private property,” said Girdler, who emphasized he cannot give a definitive answer until the insurance company hands down a decision on the situation. 
The 2010 floods left a number of areas in the city and county covered in water after more than 5 inches of rain fell over a two-day period during an unusually wet spring. The deluge left the Richard’s Court area, another downtown Somerset locale known for flooding problems, completely covered in water. 
“That’s always been a low spot that a lot of water runs to naturally,” said Councilor Jimmy Eastham on Tuesday, who lives on Richardson Drive himself. 
Girdler said the city drilled drainage holes in the area in an attempt to stop the flooding, and he said during Monday’s meeting he hadn’t received any reports of floods in the Richardson Drive area since then. 
Pete Wronikowski, who confirmed that the city drilled the drainage holes relatively quickly after the 2010 floods, said his yard still takes on quite a bit of water after more than just a couple inches of rainfall — although he said they haven’t had a situation as significant as the 2010 floods since the holes were installed. 

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