Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A 90-foot deep sinkhole closes Hillsborough park and fixing it will be complicated

LUTZ — A popular Hillsborough County park was closed indefinitely Wednesday after engineers discovered a sinkhole 90 feet deep and 6 feet wide.

The land for Lake Park, at 17302 N Dale Mabry Highway, is owned by the city of St. Petersburg, which leased it to Hillsborough County. The region's water utility, Tampa Bay Water, has five active well fields in the park, which are used to pump groundwater to satisfy the bay area's water needs.

All that has made fixing the sinkhole and reopening Lake Park a complicated proposition. The question now is: Who's going to fix it?

Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill discussed the "significantly deep chasm" at Wednesday morning's commission meeting. He said the park had to be closed entirely until the county deems it safe to reopen. "The park, the land, is actually owned by St. Pete," he said. "I believe, as the landowner, they would be the ones to pay for the remediation, which will be significant."

"We're still gathering information and we have folks going out there to check it out more," said Ben Kirby, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's spokesman.

Warren Hogg, the water use permitting manager for Tampa Bay Water, said the utility acquired the well fields from St. Petersburg in 1998. The wells pump water from 700 feet below ground, he said, and had been off since mid July during the usual summer hiatus.

Tampa Bay Water resumed pumping Tuesday, Hogg said, but the utility does not believe that contributed to the formation of the sinkhole.

"If it's not something we could have caused," Hogg said, "we would not pay for fixing it."

The sinkhole was first detected Tuesday night by a geotechnical engineering firm, according to Hillsborough County spokeswoman Michelle VanDyke. Sections of the park have been closed for weeks because of summer flooding.

"We've been dealing with (flooding) for a few weeks now, which is why we hired the firm," she said.

Several organizations help maintain facilities at the park, including the Gasparilla Bowmen Archery Club, Hurricane R/C Club and Tampa BMX Raceway Inc. "This morning's call was kind of a shock," said BMX track operator Steven Smith.

Times staff writers Steve Contorno and Sara DiNatale contributed to this report.

A 90-foot deep sinkhole closes Hillsborough park and fixing it will be complicated 12/02/15 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 2, 2015 8:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays waste repeated opportunities in 5-3 loss to Blue Jays

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Rays manager Kevin Cash made a case for urgency before Thursday's game, in both actions and words, making significant changes to the structure of the lineup and sincere comments about time running short.

    Trevor Plouffe of the Rays reacts as he pops out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. [Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images]
  2. Spanish PM voices solidarity with Barcelona

    World

    BARCELONA, Spain — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says his country is mourning in solidarity with the city of Barcelona and other cities in Europe that have been hit by deadly extremist attacks.

    An injured person is treated in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said. [Associated Press]
  3. Confederate statue: Why Bucs, Lightning, Rays took a stand

    Bucs

    They didn't want another Charlottesville.

    Marc Rodriguez, a member of the "Florida Fight for $15" organization, stands in protest along with other activists demanding the Confederate  monument be removed from the old Hillsborough County Courthouse in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Rep. Larry Ahern gets roughed up by Clearwater City Council

    State Roundup

    It seemed innocuous enough: an "end of session report" from state Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, to the Clearwater City Council.

    Then Ahern got taken to the woodshed.

    Rep. Larry Ahern is vying for a seat on the Pinellas commission.
  5. Hillsborough County erects wooden barrier to protect Confederate monument from vandalism

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County workers began constructing a wooden barrier around the base of the Confederate monument by the old county courthouse Thursday evening.

    A Hillsborough County construction crew erects a wooden barrier around the Confederate monument at the old county courthouse Thursday, out of concern about potential vandalism. [Courtesy of WTSP]