AVON PARK – For 14 years, Anastacio Pagan spent his life in the Forest Hills Estates home on 8 S. Lantana Ave. Since his death March 8, sisters Teresa Torres, Natividad Pagan and Maria Cardona have rented the house at which a hole developed in the backyard over the course of several weeks.
Despite news reports that the hole was formed due to leftover construction debris from when the house was built sometime in the 1970s, the sisters were concerned about the home’s property value going down by those who read news reports and perceived the possibility of a sinkhole opening up.
Monday, Maria Sutherland, director of administrative services, reiterated the 2-foot deep, 5-foot long and 3-feet-wide hole was nothing more than an old pit for construction debris. She said it was a matter of dirt and silt having been washed away from between the rubbish and causing what was on top to collapse, thus forming the hole.
“It’s not a sinkhole. It was used for debris. It’s from construction,” she said. “There is nothing at all to be alarmed about.”
A check at the site Jan. 24 by Kevin Kirkman and Josh Turner, Avon Park utilities’ service workers, also showed the hole was likely formed due to the ground dissolving around buried debris such as concrete chunks. Turner said the utility department had removed the safety cones from around the area and filled in the hole without digging up any of the debris.
Cardona said she had heard from family and friends that there was concern a sinkhole had formed.
She wanted to make sure it was clear that wasn’t the case.
“If we want to sell the home, that (a sinkhole) would make it hard to sell,” she said. “We want to make sure people know it isn’t, so the property isn’t devalued.”
Clint Kromhout of the Florida Geological Survey in Tallahassee is currently doing a study on sinkhole vulnerability around Florida. He said they’re uncommon in Highlands County and a massive sinkhole would be extremely rare. Locally the limestone is deeper and covered by sediments from an ancient mountain range, reducing water erosion of the limestone that cause sinkholes.