Tuesday, June 19, 2018
News Roundup

Sinkhole worries keep popular Lake Park closed

LUTZ — A friendly park ranger and the sound of songbirds usually welcome Lake Park patrons at the front gate, but lately, only a white barricade that says "Park Closed" sits at the entrance.

The county shuttered Lake Park on Dec. 2, concerned about a sinkhole that opened up in the middle of the park's southern access road. Park staff first reported the sinkhole on Oct. 31.

"At that time, we hired geotechnical firm Ardaman & Associates to test the site," says Forest Turbiville, Director of Conservation & Environmental Lands Management with Hillsborough County. "We blocked off access to the road, but the park was still open."

Concerns about the safety of parkgoers grew when officials learned the depth of the sinkhole, 100 feet. That's when officials made the tough decision to shut the park down until further geologic assessments could be made on the sinkhole. The Hillsborough County Park Department manages Lake Park as a joint venture with the City of St. Petersburg, which owns the property.

"St. Petersburg has been very good and gave us permission to conduct studies," Turbiville remarks. "They've been very supportive and we hope to get some resolution soon."

While the sinkhole was initially thought to measure 6 feet wide, Turbiville says it is possibly wider under the surface. Ardaman & Associates is about to begin an in-depth investigation on the sinkhole to determine its exact depth and width as well as sinkhole risks elsewhere in the park.

"The study we're conducting will take six weeks to complete," Turbiville said. "During that time, we'll still have the park closed to ensure public safety."

While temporarily closing the park might be the safe choice, it has disappointed some longtime park patrons. It's a popular spot with amenities that include a BMX bicycle course, equestrian center, archery range, playground, fishing areas, and picnic space.

"We really miss going to the park," says Jessica Kingsborough, mother of two daughters ages 6 and 8. Still, the Carrollwood Realtor understands why one of her family's favorite stomping grounds remains barricaded. "I'm a little concerned about the safety of the park in the long run."

Safety remains the "number-one priority" for the county, but determining the risk of sinkhole activity at the park can prove challenging according to Robert Brinkmann, professor of geology, environment, and sustainability at Hofstra University.

Brinkmann, the author of Florida Sinkholes, Science and Policy says the Sunshine State's volatile karst topography and complex network of underground caverns can lead to voids that create "catastrophic sinkholes," such as the sinkhole that opened under 37-year-old Jeffrey Bush's bedroom in his Seffner home in 2013, killing him.

While it's inconclusive as to what caused the sinkhole in Lake Park, Brinkmann says changes in groundwater condition can lead to sinkhole activity, and the park endured a record rainfall last summer.

"Rainfall is an important factor," he says. "Heavy rainfall puts a lot of weight on the surface and leads to a lot of water draining into the aquifer."

Deciding how to resolve Lake Park's current sinkhole situation and, ultimately, what the park's fate will be comes down to the research team's findings. Turbeville said Tampa Bay Water prefers filling the sinkhole with grout but officials don't know if the access road on which the sinkhole formed should ever be reopened, and what impact that may have on the park's functionality.

Turbiville said the road sits between two lakes, so rerouting the path might be difficult.

As for a timeline on when Lake Park might reopen? "We're going to wait until we get the results," Turbiville says.

"I'm hoping we'll get it open in the next couple months."

Comments
Forecast: High humidity, searing temperatures and little rain across Tampa Bay

Forecast: High humidity, searing temperatures and little rain across Tampa Bay

Dry air will keep rain chances down Tuesday, which could be a good or bad thing depending on your afternoon plans.While showers will be at a minimum, the searing heat won’t be as high humidity and mostly sunny skies will push the heat index at ar nea...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
‘Papa! Papa!’ Audio of children stokes rage over separation

‘Papa! Papa!’ Audio of children stokes rage over separation

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — An audio recording that appears to capture the heartbreaking voices of small Spanish-speaking children crying out for their parents at a U.S. immigration facility took center stage Monday in the growing uproar over the Trump admi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Daystarter: South Florida rapper gunned down; latest on the immigration controversy; the album we’ve all been waiting for

The Daystarter: South Florida rapper gunned down; latest on the immigration controversy; the album we’ve all been waiting for

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• It’s here: summer. Highs this week will all be in the 90s, with feels-like temperatures near 100 degrees, according to 10Weather WTSP.• As you head out for your morning commute, check...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Up to 1,000 children held by immigration authorities now living in Homestead compound

Up to 1,000 children held by immigration authorities now living in Homestead compound

The Trump administration has reopened a 1,000-bed Homestead facility that once housed minors who entered the country illegally and alone, reviving a compound at a time when the White House is under fire for a new policy that separates children from p...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Argument over dog leads to fatal shooting in Polk County

Argument over dog leads to fatal shooting in Polk County

A Fort Meade man was killed Monday night and two others were wounded after Polk County deputies say they approached a man while searching for a lost dog.The shooting occurred around 6:45 p.m. at the home of suspected shooter Charles Peddycoart, at 41...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Review: On ‘Everything Is Love,’ Beyonce and Jay-Z emerge from chaos defiant, triumphant

Review: On ‘Everything Is Love,’ Beyonce and Jay-Z emerge from chaos defiant, triumphant

In 2016 Beyoncé dropped Lemonade, a culture-quaking song cycle about her troubled marriage to Jay-Z, and more broadly about the black female experience in America. It was her best and most meaningful work, and it was nominated for Album of the Year a...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays DFA Rob Refsnyder to make room for Kevin Kiermaier

Rays DFA Rob Refsnyder to make room for Kevin Kiermaier

The Rays made official after Monday's game that CF Kevin Kiermaier would be activated on Tuesday.And to make room on the 40- and 25 man rosters, they designated for assignment OF Rob Refsnyder.Acquired from the Indians for cash considerations just be...
Updated: 6 hours ago
St. Petersburg residents will see higher water, sanitation bills

St. Petersburg residents will see higher water, sanitation bills

ST. PETERSBURG — Residents can expect their water and sanitation bills to increase between $7 and $11 starting in October.That represents an average of a 7-percent increase. Customers who use an average of 4,000 gallons a month, including reclaimed w...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Tampa’s budget is lean and straightforward this year, but trouble may be looming

Tampa’s budget is lean and straightforward this year, but trouble may be looming

TAMPA — Tampa City Council members have reacted to Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s cautious budget with their own hedge, saying the city’s financial outlook could turn if the national and regional economy goes south in the next few months.Buckhorn has said he w...
Published: 06/19/18