Repairs for sinkhole street set for fall

Fr. Richard Gorman takes a look at the this collapsing street on Boller and Needham avenues. The city is now coming in to save the day.
Photo by David Cruz

Help is finally on the way for a Bronx street that’s been literally sinking for 20 years.

But repairs will come with a costly catch.

Work will start next fall on a large stretch of Boller Ave., home to over a dozen rowhouses built atop cut-rate fill.

The sleepy Baychester street has become a rollercoaster roadway for drivers and a pain for some homeowners who’ve noticed their two-story houses are deviating from their foundations.

“The slabs are cracked in half and sinking away,” said neighbor Paul Lynch. “The ground is moving.”

His brother David owns a three-story home on the slumping street, complete with an $18,000 brick and wrought iron fence.

But as the city Department of Design and Construction replaces the submerged streets as part of the Pratt Avenue Reconstruction project, crews will have to rip out the Lynch brothers existing fence.

“It’s a hard one to swallow knowing we’re going to lose that,” said Paul. “We’re hoping to get some sort of funding where we pay for some of the fence and [the city] pays some back.”

The DDC agreed to re-install new fencing during the final phase of the project, originally slated for construction in 2010.

A DDC spokesman contends “any fencing we remove would otherwise have been undermined by the collapsing roadway.”

But the project was shelved after DDC did not receive permission slips from homeowners granting them the right to excavate their fences.

Community Board 12, led by chairman Fr. Richard Gorman, recently collected the signatures needed to okay the project. He urged homeowners to agree to the deal for safety’s sake.

“What happens if I need to get an ambulance in?” asked Fr. Gorman, who warns the $11 million set aside for the project will be lost if not used soon.

“If we lose money for the project, someone’s going to pay for it,” said Gorman. “Who’s going to pay for it? The homeowner.”

The bulk of the rowhouses were built about 20 years ago by Beechwood Development, which went out of business after the project wrapped up.

Because contractors used mounds of garbage to serve as filler, the streets slowly sunk.

One neighbor is forced to park on a pair of wooden planks since his driveway has split in half. Another has noticed her doors slowly misalign.

A door down, Zarita Williams has not only dealt with parking issues, but flooding problems as well.

“The pressure from the street is pushing down on the pipes,” said Williams, whose home was awash with dead roaches and sewage.

Residents missed their chance

to sue Beechwood once the company went belly-up, leaving the city to fix the company’s mess.

“Corporation is a legal person,” said Fr. Gorman, an experienced attorney. “Once you end the corporation, there’s no legal person. Hence, there’s no one to sue.”

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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