When A Toilet Backs Up, You-know-what Hits The Fan

Sewer Workers Leave Huge Crater In Street, And Neighbors Are Upset

March 11, 1991|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

Kenneth Pyle's toilet kept backing up, so he called the county to take care of the problem.

Workers came to his home Thursday and saidthey needed to repair the underground sewer line leading to his homein the unit block of Marnel Court in the Berry Wood South area of Severna Park.

So county workers dug a hole. But the weekend came before they could finish, and the 20-foot-wide, 12-foot-deep crater they left behind is causing a controversy in the neighborhood.

The community association and several of Pyle's neighbors complain the hole is unsafe because the barriers the county put up -- a few sawhorses and red tape-- don't keep children away.

They also are worried about the exposed telephone, power and cable wires that run the length of the hole and complain that the next rainstorm will wash the piles of dirt lefton the side of the road into nearby Cattail Creek.

"The kids are all out playing today," said Ray Kampmeyer, who lives on Robinson Landing Road on Cattail Creek. "The county doesn't care. This is an insult."

Kampmeyer said he called the county's emergency hot line Friday, but no one responded. Saturday morning, he called county police, who sent two officers to the scene.

He said the officers called the Department of Utilities, but they were told no one could come untilMonday.

Kampmeyer then called Councilwoman Diane Evans. Within a few hours, Lee Currier, a superintendent with the Department of Utilities collection system, was at Marnel Court surveying the scene and talking to residents.

He agreed that the piles of dirt created a hazard for Cattail Creek and said he would have a crew there within twohours to put down some gravel to act as a dam in case of rain.

"It could have been handled a little better," he said.

Currier said the project could be completed by Tuesday but said crews still must dig another six feet to get to the sewer line. He said the power linesand cables pose no danger but admitted it wouldn't be hard for someone to go into the hole and cut them.

"For three days, that's goingto be a fact of life," he told the residents. "They are going to be exposed for a period of a couple of days. There is no way I can stop (vandals) from going down into the hole and cutting those wires if they want to."

Currier said the hole is too large to cover, but he also said he would try to reinforce the barrier. "There is no way I can make it as safe as they want it," he said.

Linda Windsor, president of the Berry Wood Community Association, said she was pleased that something was being done.

"It's an open temptation to any child," she said. "It's like thin ice on a pond. Tell a child not to go outthere, and they immediately go out on it."

Windsor and several neighbors said they already have caught a few children playing in the hole.

But Pyle, whose sewer system is being fixed, told residents that they should stand guard over the hole if they are concerned. The hole abuts his driveway, crosses a sidewalk and ends about halfway into the road.

"The county has been very good about doing what needsto be done," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, they have done as much as they should. It is the responsibility of parents to tell their kids to stay away. This is a lot of to-do about nothing."

But Kampmeyer said it should not be so difficult to get action from the county.

"Look at what it took to get someone out here," he said. "We had to get a county councilwoman to throw her weight around. . . . We are very protective of our creek. When things like this happen, we arevery quick to blow the whistle on them."

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