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The Villages
Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Sinkholes at recreation center stark reminder of risk of building on limestone

Major sinkholes that opened up this past weekend and drained a retention pond behind the Moyer Recreation Center in The Villages serve as a stark reminder that sinkholes are a fact of life here.

Sinkholes can form anywhere in Florida, but the greatest threat is in central Florida because of the karst limestone environment. There are several influences that increase the risk of sinkhole activity such as long-term weather conditions, heavy acidic rains, and drought-like conditions. Sometimes, it appears man-made activity might be to blame.

A firefighter with The Villages Public Safety Department looks out at the sinkholes which opened up this weekend behind the Moyer Recreation Center
A firefighter with The Villages Public Safety Department looks out at the sinkholes which opened up this weekend behind the Moyer Recreation Center.

We’ve seen more than our share of sinkholes here in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown:

• Last week, Community Development District 3 supervisors were updated on the repair of a sinkhole near the Village of Summerhill postal station. That sinkhole was blamed on a defective pipe.

Workers inspect the sinkhole prior to beginning repair of the drainage pipes. They plan on putting a large metal pipe as a sleeve over the damaged pipe
Workers in April inspected the sinkhole at the Summerhill postal station..

In May a water main break in the Village of Mira Mesa created a sinkhole which swallowed a vehicle.

• Last year, Johnny and Robin Susko of the Village of Pennecamp filed a lawsuit seeking $30,000 for damages to their home caused by sinkholes they claim came from storm water draining from a golf course at the Cane Garden Country Club.

A major sinkhole opened up Feb. 15. 2018 in the Village of Calumet Grove leaving two homes uninhabitable. It became a nightmare for Villagers Doris Morrill and Franklin and Janet Neumann, who were forced to sell their homes as “distressed property taking a substantial loss,” according to their attorney. They have blamed The Villages for negligence, specifically “as a result of overflow water being diverted from the golf course ponds directly into their yard.” The Community Development District 4 Board of Supervisors was forced to approve a 20 percent increase in maintenance assessment rates to repair damages to streets, pipes and infrastructure.

McLawren Terrace remained blocked for many months in front of the two sinkhole-ravaged homes in the Village of Calumet Grove.

• Residents of the Village of Alhambra have been frustrated for years by sinkholes opening up at a retention pond. Several sinkholes appeared in 2017 in the wake of Hurricane Irma, but there were problems prior to that 150-year storm. Connie Carlisle and her husband purchased a home on the pond in 2019. They bought the property after being told by a Villages sales representative that he had no knowledge of any sinkhole problems.

A sinkhole opened up on Chalmer Terrace in the Village of Buttonwood in April 2014.

• In 2014, the normally quiet neighborhood, affectionately known as Buttonwood Heights, was rocked by the gigantic 60-foot-deep sinkhole, which was positioned between two homes located at 2057 and 2051 Chalmer Terrace. The sinkhole had started forming a few days earlier but it expand rapidly on the day before Easter.

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