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Businesses evacuated near Tarpon Springs sinkhole

TARPON SPRINGS — A 30-by-40-foot sinkhole opened up Friday afternoon at Oakwood Street near U.S. Highway 19, causing the Tarpon Springs Fire Department to evacuate businesses around the area.

The 12-foot deep breach appeared a little after 2 p.m. in between a large retention pond and a strip center.

Employees of a Mexican restaurant, a salon, a dry cleaner, a marble/granite company and a martial arts studio in the strip center were told to leave. Utilities were shut off as a precaution.

Pinellas County is building a storm water treatment facility on the property where the pond stands, said Ron Garraffa, a spokesman for the county's Public Works Department.

A few nearby residents believe the sinkhole could be linked to the project.

But Garraffa said, "We're not aware of that yet."

County crews were working Friday afternoon to fill in the sinkhole.

"We're working diligently and safely to repair the roadway,'' Garraffa said. "We will assess the level of permanent repairs tonight and tomorrow.''

Neighbors have their theories on why the sinkhole materialized.

Selwyn Dusheiko, who has an accounting business on Oakwood Street, said big flatbed vehicles carrying tons of concrete are a common sight on the little road.

"There's been a lot of heavy trucks since they've been fixing up the retention pond,'' he said. "They've been working on it for over two months.''

Resident Alan Carlson said the shaking from machinery has caused cracks in the walls of his apartment building.

"This whole thing's a mess,'' he said. "They've kept it hush, hush.''

Reach Eileen Schulte at schulte@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4153.

Businesses evacuated near Tarpon Springs sinkhole 08/07/09 [Last modified: Friday, August 7, 2009 9:16pm]

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