The ground around a troublesome pothole on 78th Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues has finally opened up.
According to residents, the small sinkhole – just outside 469 78th Street – is approximately four feet wide and four feet deep, with the potential to get worse if not repaired.
“It’s horrible,” said neighbor Laurence Lankton, who has been complaining about the depression since it first became noticeable around February of this year. “Last night at about 8 o’clock I was sitting outside with my wife and we noticed it was getting worse.”
Lankton said that, as of about 8:15 a.m. Thursday, September 10, the pothole had completely given in. Since then, a bevy of commercial trucks have made their way down the block – the weights of which, Lankton says, will only make matters worse.
“An elderly woman almost fell in; I had to help her get around it,” he said, stressing that both 311 and 911 have already given him the cold shoulder.
“I called 311 and they passed me through to 911,” Lankton explained. “That’s when a gentleman told me, if nobody’s injured and nobody’s stuck, they can’t do anything – as if it’s no big deal.”
The cave-in comes just one month after members of Community Board 10 penned a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT) with a list of 14 sites – 78th Street included – they feared would meet a fate similar to that of 65th Street and Fifth Avenue, a Sunset Park intersection that was swallowed by a massive sinkhole in early August, a concern that was echoed by local politicians like Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann, noting that at least 10 residents marched into her office Thursday morning to let her know about the sinkhole.
Residents like Lankton wonder just what it takes to get the city’s attention.
“Does it take somebody getting hurt or a car getting stuck to get something done?” he asked.
But, according to Beckmann, help is on the way. She told this paper that a DOP rep had told the board office that the collapse was caused by a private homeowner line that had been repaired and that the sinkhole would be filled in by a private contractor by the end of the day.
Contacted for comment, DOT referred this paper to the Department for Environmental Protection (DEP), which informed us that the property owner at fault had been issued a cease and desist order to make the necessary repairs.
According to a DEP rep, the agency will make the area safe until repairs are made.