People posing for selfies with sinkholes that have stressed Villager to breaking point

A Village of Alhambra resident pleaded for help from the Community Development District 2 Board with ongoing sinkhole issues and a vacated home next door.

Belinda Sweeney on Friday told the board she has suffered through the “most stressful 16 months of my life” dating back to the series of sinkholes that opened up in the pond behind her home in September 2017 in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

The sinkholes damaged the home next door on Botello Avenue and that home has changed hands twice between companies that buy up sinkhole-damaged homes. The house is vacant and has fallen into neglect.

“I heard the inside is just horrible,” she said.

This home has been vacant after sustaining sinkhole damage.

Sweeney’s 47-year-old son recently visited and chased after her dog that got loose and ran out of the house. Her son fell into a sinkhole while chasing the dog.

To add insult to injury, Sweeney said people have been posing for selfies with the sinkholes.

A sinkhole is marked off in an empty pond in the Village of Alhambra.

“I am tired of people going down and posing with the sinkhole. It’s not funny,” said Sweeney, a resident of The Villages since 1999, who lost her husband on Oct. 22, 2017.

CDD 2 Chairman Bryan Lifsey, who noted that $178,000 has been spent on sinkhole repairs over the life of the pond, asked that Sweeney be given some direction.

CDD 2 cannot take action on private property, but District staff agreed to put Sweeney in touch with the proper Sumter County officials who might be able to address some of her concerns.

Meanwhile, Villages Director of Property Management Sam Wartinbee said a contractor is scheduled to put a plug in the the latest sinkhole in the pond in the Village of Alhambra. Once the plug is in, more grout will be injected, he indicated.