Florence St. site of sinkhole and erupting water is closed to traffic

Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito surveyed one of Grantsville's problems Monday, a sinkhole that has caused at least two civil suits to be filed against the town.

The sinkhole, according to the suits, has caused damage to properties at the corner of Florence and Mill Street.

The cases are on the docket of magistrate Teresa Robinson next week, with the town's attorney Kevin Postalwait requesting dismissal.

Capito came to survey the collapsing street problem after a Lincoln Day dinner at the Senior Center.

"Ms. Capito was unaware of the problem. She was shocked," said Cheryl Davis, a Grantsville councilwoman whose property has been affected and whose husband has filed one of the suits. "She asked us to advise her of the outcome of the suits.

Capito was accompanied to the problem site by Grantsville resident Nancy Bremar, LK Development Corporation Director Diane Ludwig and Chronicle reporter Lisa Minney, according to Davis.

Robert Petrovsky brought the first suit, claiming Florence Street has been collapsing for at least 20 months, and numerous requests to the town have not remedied the problem.

"I believe the town must be responsible for its neglect," said Petrovsky.

Petrovsky's suit says every time it rains trash erupts from a drain and comes onto his property, after which he spends several hours cleaning up, including attempts to fill the sink hole.

He is requesting $3,500 for his labor and time, including water he has used for clean-ups, among other costs related to the suit.

Councilwoman Davis said an insurance adjuster visited she and her husband's property a few days ago. "No offer or settlement has been made," she said. Davis' filed the second suit against the town over the sinkhole problem.

Davis claims "For the past two years, I have contacted the city about collapsed drains at the corner of Mill and Florence Streets and requested that it be taken care of."

"Every time it rains my basement fills with water and debris is on my yard, which causes hardship to my health. I have spoken to town council and the mayor, but with mildewing, which creates breathing problems, I need this matter resolved," said Davis.

He requests the balance of $4,999.99 plus court cost in the amount of $70, plus interest from the date of the judgment.

The town has been conducting some work on the sinkhole problem which Petrovsky says has not helped the problem.

"I'm sticking to my guns with this," he said, after trying "every avenue to solve the problem."

The town's response through attorney Kevin Postalwait says one or both complainants failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.

Postalwait's response also says the town asserts absolute immunity pursuant to WV Code, the town did not act negligently, the town did not breach any legal duty owed to the plaintiff and the town is without "sufficient knowledge of information to either admit or deny the truth of the factual allegations of the complaint."

Both suits have been filed in Calhoun Magistrate Court, which requires civil actions under $5000.