Fix on horizon for Stone House sinkhole in Nevada City
It’s been two years since a 10-foot-deep sinkhole opened up along Little Deer Creek in the parking lot of The Stone House.
But after protracted wrangling between Nevada City officials and the owner of the iconic Brewery building, plans are reportedly being drawn up to fix the gaping hole in the pavement that remains protected only by portable barricades.
The sinkhole opened up in early February 2017 after several particularly heavy rain storms swelled Deer Creek and flooded Lefty’s Grill across Sacramento Street, said City Engineer Bryan McAllister.
The flooding creek then caused a culvert to fail. An emergency crew sent out by the city removed asphalt and concrete debris from the sinkhole and created a channel for water to flow back into the culvert.
The city immediately submitted paperwork to notify the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and issued a disaster declaration through the city council, McAllister said.
City staff then started a funding request process with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the state and then the Federal Highway Administration.
But, McAllister said, the state and federal agencies said the repair of the sinkhole was not eligible for public assistance because it was a private parking lot. And according to Assistant City Engineer Bill Falconi, the failed culvert had been installed by previous owners of the Stone House property.
Jonathan Rowe, who purchased the Stone House building in February 2016, took the position it was not his responsibility.
“We could help with some portions,” Rowe told The Union in December 2017. But, he added, “I can’t afford to fix it myself. And I feel like the city is putting it in my lap.”
Until September 2018, Nevada City had not received a formal response from the agencies that could potentially fund the repair. McAllister said. Once the official notification was received, Nevada City began following up with Rowe on a regular basis.
“We have met with him and the engineer that he is hiring,” McAllister said. “We’re hopeful the work will be done this summer.”
Rowe could not be reached for comment.
In the meantime, city staff has been monitoring the sinkhole.
“It hasn’t worsened,” McAllister said. “There’s been no further damage.”
According to McAllister, the city is willing to repair any issues in the drainage into the culvert.
“We have an interest in seeing the sinkhole get repaired, so we would want to help where we can,” he said. “But if it’s not public infrastructure, we can’t use public funds.”
City staff has been talking to Rowe about the design of the repair work, McAllister said.
“We’re hoping to see plans, and see the contractor get in here and make the repairs by late summer, early fall,” he said.
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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