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Massive ‘Sinkhole’ Opens in Dormont Parking Lot

The hole appears to be caused by the collapse of an underground concrete box that the borough has no records for.

A massive “sinkhole” has opened in the Dormont Pool parking lot, and what it revealed has borough officials baffled. 

The ground fell in Wednesday, when the roof of a concrete box buried under the parking lot collapsed—and the borough has no record, no design plans, no indication of such a container ever being buried there.

Borough manager Jeff Naftal said that with no records showing why the box is there, officials don’t know much about what it was used for, or if other containers exist.

“The box is ridiculously large,” Naftal said. “It’s 20 feet wide, 50 feet long, 10 feet deep and it’s buried 7 feet underground. “We had no idea it was there. It doesn’t show on any maps.”

Naftal said that this is not a true sinkhole because it did not occur by natural causes. It is affecting about five parking spaces in the lot, but is not likely to continue expanding.

Dormont crews initially thought the hole was caused by a pipe or underground line, but then the ground continued to collapse Wednesday night into Thursday, revealing the concrete structure underneath.

Because the work proved too extensive for Dormont’s in-house road crew, Niando Construction has been subcontracted to review the situation, excavate the area, fill and re-pave that section of the lot.

There is no cost estimate for the repair work yet. Naftal said he’s hopeful that repairs will be complete by next week, but there are still a lot of questions to answer.

The box does not appear to have contained anything, he said.

“It could have been used for any number of things,” Naftal said. “We don’t know that, and we won’t know, maybe forever, but certainly not before Niando has excavated. We need to see if there are any pipes leading into or out of it, and where those pipes go.”

The borough has not placed parking restrictions on the area, but officials are advising residents to use caution near the site.

Crews from Columbia Gas will continue line work in the area, and Naftal said the collapse is not related to work being done by that company.

Continue to follow Dormont-Brookline Patch as details become available.


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stinkbugg March 01, 2013 at 05:00 PM
1950's bomb shelter
E. Simpson March 01, 2013 at 05:11 PM
Yep, it was the bomb shelter. I remember hearing about it when I was young.
Erin Faulk March 01, 2013 at 05:41 PM
Just curious, but where did you hear this was a bomb shelter? Is this a "talk-around-town" type of thing, or is there documentation somewhere to support this? I didn't grow up in Dormont, so I've never heard this theory.
Drew Lehman March 01, 2013 at 08:31 PM
Ask Murial Moreland at the Dormont Historical Society she knows everything there is to know about Dormont.
Erin Faulk March 01, 2013 at 08:34 PM
Good thinking. Someone on the Facebook page also suggested that this spot might have been used to burn old Christmas trees at one time. Borough officials don't have a known record of it. I'm going to try for a follow-up on this story on Monday or Tuesday, and if we're not sure what it is by then, I will be searching the Historical Society's records!
mary jo otoole March 01, 2013 at 09:12 PM
Whoa!!!! That's crazy!!! Be interesting to hear if it was a bomb shelter!!!
maria March 01, 2013 at 10:06 PM
It does look to be the spot where we used to have the tree burning
Leigh March 01, 2013 at 11:08 PM
It might be where the trees were burned but the parking lot was redone and that was one of the reasons the tree burning stopped.
Robin March 01, 2013 at 11:58 PM
Jimmy Hoffa?!
Jason D Flaherty March 02, 2013 at 06:45 AM
If the parking lot was put in correctly somebody should of known something was there. Ground compaction and proof rolling would have exposed that. It would be nice to see if the contractor who put the parking lot in knew of something. Who ever replaced the surface also should have known something was there. This sounds foreign to most but any engineer technician that should have tested that parking lot would have noticed something wrong at sub grade. The funny thing I parked right there to watch my step son sled ride and noticed a lot of cracks that could be consistent with that. Hope the borough checks the rest of the lot. Very interested in what's down there. Who knows might lead to Tony Grossos basement safe across the street. On a residents note: I want to know as a tax payer why that area passed a proof roll or how! Dormont I hope you force the contractor to hire a consulting firm to sit there and inspect that ground by means of nuclear regulatory gauge and proof roll. Can't Waite to see if the borough does require ground compaction testing .
Ed M March 02, 2013 at 01:37 PM
When was the parking lot originally put in?
double d March 02, 2013 at 04:39 PM
I bet Gino knows about this. Or the former council.
Dandelion March 02, 2013 at 05:18 PM
Jason, I am willing to bet that parking lot was a parking lot a long - long time before it was required practice to do all of the expensive testing that you mention. Perhaps you are a frustrated engineer want to be that likes to waste other peoples money on non-essential b.s. It is only a pool parking lot. The Dormont pool opened during the great depression and I am sure no one was wasting money on unnecessary engineering BS then. The Dormont public works department built the whole place for around $20,000. which was a fortune back then. Proof Rolling and nuclear testing and consultants--- just collapse the concrete blocks with an excavator , fill the hole and compact it with a vibratory roller in1 foot lifts and pave it!!!!! Jeez Jason, go play with your slide rule awhile !!!!!
T&B T March 02, 2013 at 08:18 PM
This is interesting. Once the contractor excavates the site they may be able to determine more from what is found.

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