Neighbors concerned as Pasco County depression grows to 70 feet deep, sports bar reopens

Pasco County

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The depression that was discovered in Pasco County earlier this week – then just 30 feet deep – has now grown to 70 feet deep and forced county officials to keep a nearby roadway and sports bar closed.

“It would be scary to fall into for sure, the first thing I thought of was the guy that got eaten up in his bed,” said Bruce Wernet, who lives a few miles from the depression and stopped by to see it Thursday.

Pasco County Emergency Management officials said Thursday the depression, which opened up on Spring Haven Boulevard in New Port Richey Monday, just keeps growing.

The hole was 20 feet wide and 35 feet deep when it was first discovered. But as of Thursday, Pasco Emergency Management officials said it’s 37 feet wide and 70 feet deep.

As a precaution, and in preparation for the worst, U.S. Water spent the day Thursday cutting off a section of a nearby water pipe.

Engineers and geologists went out Thursday to study the depression. 8 On Your Side obtained 3D images taken by USF geoscience researchers.

For now, the county is still calling the hole a depression – not a sinkhole. According to scientists, the difference has to do with drainage.

But whatever you call it, it’s evoking emotions from those living nearby.

“Geological things are something that excites me, so I hope to check it out soon,” Pasco County resident Dave Purdy said.

When he saw it, he was shocked.

“Wow, this is a lot deeper than I thought it was,” Purdy said, admitting he was concerned about his home.

Purdy told us the hole looked 30 feet deep and was shocked when we told him officials said it’s 70 feet deep.

“I’m still scared because from what I see, Pasco County has a lot of issues when it comes to what is going on underneath the ground,” he said. “They’re putting construction on top of the ground but what’s going on underneath is something that needs to be discussed.”

Pasco Emergency Management said they hope to begin repairing the depression as soon as Friday but are still working to finalize details on if that will happen.

Spring Haven Boulevard remained closed Thursday along with the Varsity Club sports bar. The bar was first forced to close Tuesday night. Emergency management officials said Thursday that Pasco County Building Services deemed the bar unsafe due to how close it is to the hole.

The manager of Varsity Club said city engineers told them there was a chance they could open for Thursday night’s Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Buccaneers games. But as of 5 p.m. Thursday, they were still unsure if they would be able to open.

Emergency management officials have been conducting multiple visits a day to monitor for any growth. While the size of the depression is growing quickly, county officials said Thursday there are “no life-safety concerns at this time.”

According to a county spokesperson, the hole is on private property that affects both the Varsity Club and the Spring Haven HOA.

“Both affected property owners have hired engineering firms,” the spokesperson said. “As a reminder, a private contractor will have to determine the cause of the depression.”

Emergency management officials have been urging people to stay away from the area. The county said is decided Thursday to put up a chain-link fence around the depression “in the interest of public safety.”

On Thursday evening, a county official deemed the restaurant stable and allowed patrons in for service.

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