This paving stone was placed on top of an open water meter vault.… (Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore…)
The problem: A paving stone barely covered an open water meter vault in Upper Fells Point.
The back story: Finding a parking spot near Patterson Park can be a challenge. But one location on Bank Street presented a hidden danger for Janice Evans of Nottingham.
About two months ago, she parked in the 2200 block of Bank St., just east of North Patterson Park Avenue, to visit a friend. Evans had to get out of her vehicle somewhat awkwardly because the tree well had been walled in with bricks. Then she stepped onto an unstable surface and fell.
"I didn't even see this little plate over the hole," she said, describing it as a deep hole. "My whole leg went in it. Fortunately, I fell back."
She wrote an email to Watchdog asking for help getting it fixed. The cover "is not designed well at all and needs to have something much more secure to protect it from man or beast," Evans wrote.
Watchdog went to take a look and was surprised to find a round, flat paving stone — the sort used to create winding paths in bucolic gardens — placed on top of an open water meter vault.
The stone was barely larger than the opening itself, so even a gentle tap with a toe easily tipped it up.
Watchdog contacted Baltimore's Department of Public Works to see if a better option was available than this makeshift solution.
The cover was replaced Wednesday, the day Watchdog called. There were no reports in the 311 system about the situation, DPW spokesman Kurt Kocher said.
"When you've got a hole in a sidewalk like that, or a grass plot, call and we will respond and we'll replace it," he said.
Covers occasionally go missing for various reasons, including theft and vandalism, according to Kocher.
He cautioned that if something presents an immediate threat — a missing manhole cover in a roadway, for example — readers should call 911. But a call to 311 should result in swift action for less pressing matters, as well.
"We want to address it right away because of the public safety hazard," Kocher said.
Who can fix this: Greg Scheihing, utility meter field operations manager, Baltimore Department of Public Works. 410-396-0170. City residents should call 311 to report problems.
Is there something in your neighborhood that's not getting fixed? Tell us where the problem is and how long it's been there by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 410-332-6735.