Final Repairs Being Made

 The city has completed some of the repairs to the sinkhole that occurred overnight Sept. 9 near West Osage and Integram Drive when a 1989 corrugated metal sewer line collapsed. City Administrator Steve Roth said he plans to present final plans on the repair project to the board of aldermen Nov. 15. Missourian Photo.

The future of the sinkhole on an industrial site at West Osage Street and Integram Drive is still in limbo as city officials and owners of the site disagree over responsibility and the process to clean it up.

The sinkhole at first spanned 50 by 70 feet and was 23 feet deep. Over the next weeks, it would grow to a length of 300 feet and a depth of 30 feet.

After discussions with MoDOT, the city removed the collapsed pipe and created an open drainage ditch to carry the stormwater.

Initially, the city planned to grade the sides of the ditch so they could be mowed and remove the collapsed debris from the site, but no progress has been made.

Work appears to have stalled at the site, with crumbled corrugated pipe, concrete slabs and one large piece of equipment left at the site.

In separate phone calls with The Missourian, the city and property owner did not agree on where talks stand on making final repairs.

City Administrator Steve Roth said the city originally took action when the sinkhole occurred and did some cleanup at the site because it was a public safety issue.

“But when the dust cleared and it was time to go in and fix it, there was no easement or agreement with the property owner for the city to get onto the site,” Roth said.

Swata Gandhi, general counsel for DAP Foam Products, which owns the property, said city officials told their firm that the city did not want an easement.

“DAP is willing to provide an easement,” Gandhi said. “They (city officials) don’t want an easement. They don’t want responsibility to fix it.”

DAP Products acquired the site from Clayton Corporation in January 2017.

The sewer line, a corrugated metal pipe that extends from the box culvert under West Osage to a catch basin on the east side of Integram Drive, was installed in 1989.

Roth said DAP officials requested a meeting with the city, county and MoDOT Aug. 25 to discuss the sinkhole issue. Roth and City Attorney Robert Jones represented Pacific at the meeting.

At that meeting, MoDOT requested an easement from DAP to construct repairs and improvements to the box culvert under Osage Street/Route 66 that showed damage following the sinkhole collapse.

Gandhi said her firm feels the sinkhole is unsightly and wants to see it cleaned up. She also said it’s her firm’s position that repairs for the damaged sewer line should be the city’s responsibility.

“It is our understanding that the city of Pacific is the owner of the pipe that collapsed and caused the sinkhole on our property,” she said. “We met with them and others last week and they (Pacific officials) basically said ‘this is your property and your responsibility.’ ”

Gandhi, who called The Missourian from her office in Sikesville, Md., said she has seen the sinkhole and is aware of how unsightly it is.

“We (DAP officials) are trying to work with the city of Pacific,” she said. “They are not taking responsibility.”

Gandhi said DAP officials are aware that the pipe is 30 years old and located on a site that was in Franklin County at the time the pipe was constructed, which was later annexed into the city of Pacific.

“At this point we’re trying to figure out how to get this site cleaned up,” Gandhi said. “We are not ignoring it.”

Roth said Pacific’s position today is the same as it was in April when he met with DAP officials.

“We told them at that time that the board of aldermen had authorized us to go in and do the cleanup work, but we have no easement,” he said.

Roth said that plan could not be carried out until the city receives an easement across the property and reaches an agreement with the property owner.

“Obviously we want to clean up the mess,” he said. “But it is not our property.”