Friday, May 23, 2014
Sinkholes in the Cemetery - Update
In mid March, 2014, two sinkholes appeared in the cemetery in an area not directly involving any graves. These two subsidence areas of instability are fairly small as sinkholes go, but still are of sufficient concern to warrant professional exploration in an effort to determine the best approach to fixing the problem. These areas of subsurface instability followed a heavy melt off of snow that had accumulated in the cemetery along with two solid days of heavy and persistent rain.
The cemetery officers and directors immediately took action to close the cemetery to the general public and to erect protective fencing around the area of subsidence. The fencing encloses an area approximately 40 x 40 feet. Three separate Engineering and Consulting firms were contacted. Each firm did a preliminary study of the area and subsequently provided the board of directors with their proposals for remedial action along with estimates of the cost of various remedies.
A committee made up of officers of the cemetery reviewed the various studies and proposals and reported its findings to the full board. Subsequently the committee met with an outside, independent geological consultant, after he had an opportunity to review the proposals. This meeting resulted in a formulation of a plan that would allow the cemetery association to move forward with remedial action. But first, prior to proceeding, it was suggested by the consultant that the cemetery association obtain a copy of the geophysical report ordered by the City of Allentown in early 2012, which involved a huge sinkhole on Tenth Street just outside the cemetery main gate. It was the opinion of our professional consultant that this report would be invaluable to the cemetery association in that it would reveal the make-up of the soil in and surrounding the cemetery proper.
City representatives had previously denied the associations request to review the report’s findings, so the association filed a 'Right to Know' request with the City in May of 2014. The City responded within the required 5 day time frame indicating that due to legal ramifications it needed an additional 30 days to review the consequences of providing the information to the cemetery association. This additional time is allowed under the 'Right to Know' Act. The City has until mid June, 2014, to file its response to the association's request.
As a result of the delay, the cemetery officers and directors, have put all remedial actions on hold pending the outcome of our request to the City to review the geophysical report for the sinkhole that appeared on Tenth Street on December 30, 2011.
The cemetery will gladly accept donations to offset the ultimate cost of repairing the damage done to the cemetery by the two sinkholes. Please go to our web site and click on "Donations" if you wish to help.
The Union and West End Cemetery Association web site can be found here:
Posted by: Everette H. Carr, President
Union and West End Cemetery Association
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