UPLAND, Ind. — A town’s failing underground infrastructure has plagued homeowners who say they have spent years watching large sinkholes open up in their yards.
Kim McCall’s front yard feels a little like whack-a-mole as you start to spot the holes.
“We can’t let our grandkids play in the front yard,” McCall said. “My husband about lost the lawnmower. … They’re just getting worse.”
Next door, Kevin Miles is dealing with an even bigger problem in his back yard, where one sinkhole has grown several feet deep and even larger across.
“It’s sad that it’s part of my daily routine to walk around my backyard and see what new holes have arrived, how big they’re getting,” Miles said.
You only have to look inside the sinkhole in Miles’ yard to see the problem: aging clay stormwater pipes have failed underneath the ground. Miles said he has reported the issues for years but recently, he became so upset that town officials stopped responding to him.
“It’s unfortunate that we had to get a hold of [CBS4] and take this route, because we feel like our hands are tied,” Miles said.
The CBS4 Problem Solvers went to Upland town manager Johnathan Perez to get answers.
“We know we have deficiencies in that line,” Perez said. “We’ve been patching as best we can.”
According to Perez, until he came onto the job last year the town had never mapped its underground systems. He hired a company to make a map, which shows the stormwater system going directly through the McCall and Miles properties.
“We can begin being proactive, rather than 100 percent reactive to what our infrastructure is,” Perez said.
Perez said he was in the final stages of bidding a project to get the system fixed underneath both homeowners’ yards and expected to begin construction this month. In order to fix all issues with the town’s infrastructure, Perez will need to find funding to cover more than $5.7 million in repairs.
“I was hoping to get in the ground before the freeze,” Perez said.
After years of requests, Miles and McCall both said they would welcome repairs and hoped to see them start as soon as possible.
“I’d like to see it fixed,” McCall said. “Something needs to be resolved.”
Many towns are facing similar infrastructure issues and multiple state agencies are helping secure funding where needed. If you find yourself in a situation like this, you should contact your community’s public works or engineering department.