UPDATE May 5- - After seeing the Arkansas Times pick up this Tumblr post, I need to clarify. The concrete box surrounding the natural water flow that runs beneath the home wasn’t built by the city, and therefore isn’t maintained by the city. It is not part of the city’s drainage system. Something also to keep in mind, this home is not alone. I’ve been told there could be more than 100 homes like it. All of it done in a time when private developers bought cheap land, constructed the concrete boxes around water flow, leveled the land, and built houses on top, unbeknownst to the city until the earth opened up.
Underneath The Sinkhole - - Even though it’s not the city’s fault, the city will probably end up paying for it. As you may or may not have seen during the 5pm show, an elderly Little Rock husband and wife are dealing with a rather large sinkhole right in their front yard.
Aside from the fact they should be charging admission for all the cars cruising up and down S. Chester to get a glance, they’re also looking to the city to fix it for them.
The city has looked at its maps for information on easements etc, short story: the city doesn’t have any easements on the property. The box around the drainage was built by a private developer (probably in the late 1930’s, pre planning department/zoning era) and the home is private property.
City Manager Bruce Moore met with city attorney Tom Carpenter and Steve Beck, the director of public works, Monday afternoon to figure out what the legal obligations are, if any, for the city. It looks like the city isn’t legally obligated to do anything. Politically? Clearly another story.
We’ll see what happens over the next few days, but from talking with someone close to the situation, it’s likely Carpenter is working on drafting language that would allow the city to pay for repairs in this one instance but it would stop there. They don’t want to create a precedent of fixing problems the city didn’t have a hand in creating. However, given the fact the Boose’s are an elderly couple with limited resources and had no idea this was going on beneath their feet, the city will probably repair their yard and get it back the way it was before.
It will likely cost the city a lot more politically if it takes the legally correct route (not fixing it). So in this case doing the “wrong” thing (paying for repairs) is the right thing. We’ll see.