City Hall, City Fire station being tested for possible sinkhole damage

  • Wednesday, April 9, 2014

When sinkholes formed in the City of Georgetown in 2011, several buildings and homes were damaged.

One building - Parish Place which was at the corner of North Fraser and Prince Streets - was completely leveled by the sinkholes.

Georgetown City Hall and the city’s main fire department are adjacent to where the sinkholes formed, so testing is now being conducted to determine if either building received structural damage.

The testing began in September and resumed last week and is being conducted by GS2, a geotechnical engineering firm from Columbia, according to City Administrator Chris Carter.

He said the company is boring up to 60-feet in depth around the perimeter of City Hall and the fire department. The tests in September were mainly in the exterior of the buildings.

Carter said once GS2 completes the testing, they will report their findings to Kyzer & Timmerman of Myrtle Beach, a structural engineering firm that the city used previously.

Carter said the testing is being conducted because the city “is in the process of trying to perfect a cross-claim against the South Carolina Department of Transportation and those others who were ultimately responsible for the de-watering event that occurred in October 2011 during the construction of the drainage pond.”

It was SCDOT that was in charge of the drainage project that was taking place in the area when the sinkholes formed.

Carter said the city needs to know “as much as possible about any voids that may have occurred under City Hall or the fire station in order to carry our claim against these entities as well as continue to file a claim against our own Property and Casualty Insurer: the South Carolina Municipal insurance and Risk Management Fund.”

About a year ago, soil borings were conducted around the water tank that was recently removed from the City Hall property.

“There was evidence of underground voids that the engineering firm felt could have been caused by the de-watering event. Subsequently smaller scale borings and ground penetrating radar were used around our two buildings,” Carter said.

He said there was inconclusive evidence “there could very well be shifting soils but the size and imminent threat these could present to the structural integrity of City Hall and fire station could not be conclusively determined.”

Kyzer and Timmerman, Carter said, will present city council with a report which is expected to include options and cost estimates for any repairs that may be needed.

“The city needs this information to plan its future in these two buildings and to firm up any claim we develop against those parties found responsible for the de-watering event,” Carter said.

The report is expected to be delivered to the city in May.

There are lawsuits still pending because of the sinkholes.

Georgetown County has filed suit against the city as well as Davis and Floyd, Inc., Republic Contracting Corp., and the SCDOT.

Lawsuits have previously been filed by Tony and Debbie Jordan who owned Parrish Place; Georgetown Auto Parts and Landy’s Cleaners which was located at 119 and 125 North Fraser Street; Biz Vestors, LLC of 213 Dozier Street; Deep Enterprise, LLC of 238 North Fraser Street; Sam’s Furniture Warehouse at 219 Dozier Street; and Bret Phillips, a homeowner at 1201 Prince Street.

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