Calumet Grove residents remain suspicious about pipe at site of sinkholes near their homes

Village of Calumet Grove residents remain suspicious about a pipe at the site of sinkholes that opened up near their homes.

Villages District Assistant Manager Richard Baier gave a detailed presentation Friday afternoon before a packed house of residents attending the Community Development District 4 Board meeting at Savannah Center. Among those in the audience were the homeowners living in temporary rentals after their McLawren Terrace homes were “red-tagged” in the wake of the sinkholes.

Baier offered a detailed timeline of the response to the sinkholes, which initially opened up in February.

You can see Baier’s entire presentation at this link. Richard Baier presentation

Fellow McLawren Terrace resident Wally Goodsell said he has an underground pipe near his home and would like to see it inspected with a 360-degree video camera. He was disappointed to learn that the pipe isn’t due for inspection for a few more years and there are no plans to adjust that timeline.

A pipe where a sinkhole opened up earlier this year in the Village of Calumet Grove continues to be viewed with suspicion by residents.

District officials vehemently denied any link between the pipe and the sinkholes. Numerous reports have documented activity and damage from the sinkhole and none of the reports have found a link between the pipe and the sinkhole, Villages officials said.

District Counsel Valerie Fuchs said there is no indication that the sinkholes are nothing more than, “An act of God, a natural occurrence.” 

Marion County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Management Director Preston Bowlin reminded audience members that Florida is prone to sinkholes.

Marion County is the fifth-leading county in the Sunshine State when it comes to sinkholes, he said.

“Sinkholes, unfortunately, are not an overnight fix,” Bowlin said. “I know residents are anxious.”

Red-tagged homeowner Doris Morrill, a widow, is still wading through the complicated mess of suddenly owning an uninhabitable home. She said she had been approached by companies that buy up sinkhole-damaged homes, but indicated they have only offered a low-ball payout.

“The reason my house is still there, is that I don’t think I can afford to rebuild it,” she told CDD 4 supervisors.

Doris Morrill’s home on McLawren Terrace has been declared uninhabitable.

“This is not what I planned for my retirement,” she added.

Michael Savage of the Marion County Building Department admitted the insurance issue can be difficult.

“Your insurance company may offer a $150,000 payout on a $300,000 house,” he said.

Villager Margaret Moore said the scary sinkhole scenario has prompted her to zero in on the fine print of her insurance policy.

“We have insurance, but the more I read my policy, the less insurance I think I have,” she said.

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