On Wednesday, homeowners in the Lake Padgett Estates neighborhood in Land O’ Lakes will hear from geologists and county engineers about solutions for a massive sinkhole.
Last July, the sinkhole swallowed two homes on Ocean Pine Drive. Dramatic video showed one of the homes as it collapsed. The sinkhole was estimated to be 225 feet wide and 50 feet deep after it formed that day.
Several residents told News Channel 8 they are overwhelmed as they look ahead to a meeting Wednesday about the sinkhole.
“Especially at our age,” said Dottie Benschoter, who has lived in her house for 41 years. “We never dreamed this would happen.”
Benschoter’s life was turned upside down last July when the sinkhole opened and swallowed the homes. She’s been staying with family ever since.
“And my husband has Parkinson’s, so this has been so stressful,” said Benschoter. “Dealing with that, and now this… it’s overwhelming.”
Benschoter said she’s frustrated with the progress, and the thought that she may be on the hook financially.
“I know they’re trying their best, but they still don’t have any answers yet,” said Benschoter. “They still haven’t made a decision on what they’re doing. They said we have to demolish our homes and pay for it ourselves.”
She’s just one of the residents affected by the sinkhole.
The road that used to encircle the neighborhood is now a dead end, blocked off with a fence and “Road Closed” signs.
“I think they’ve made a determination now that they cannot fix the road,” said Charlie Venator. “I know a lot of us were in favor of that, but they’ve deemed it unsafe.”
The sinkhole is now more than 250 feet across.
The fence has been floated as a possible long-term solution.
Benschoter feels it’s a necessary evil because the sinkhole is an unplanned body of water, but Venator thinks it could have a negative impact on property values in the neighborhood.
“It’s a sinkhole, but it’s full of water–therefore, a pond,” said Venator. “Using that same logic, they might as well put a fence around Lake Saxon and Lake Padgett because somebody might fall in. This is ridiculous, this fence thing. There are many lakes in the neighborhood. The city’s name is Land O’ Lakes!”