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Cemetery sinkholes concern neighbors

By Meghan Packer, Reporter, MPacker@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 14 2014 09:01:39 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 14 2014 09:54:42 PM CDT

A historic Allentown cemetery with a history of sinkhole troubles nearby looks like it could be having a case of d?j? vu.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

A historic Allentown cemetery with a history of sinkhole troubles nearby looks like it could be having a case of deja vu.

This time, the caving ground is inside the Union and West End Cemetery and the openings caught the attention of neighbors.

"My concern is that a kid could be running around here and he could injure himself by falling," said Hector Ortiz.

Ricardo Ortiz said, "When I see that, it gets me worried when I have my kids around."

Everette Carr, the president of the Union and West End Cemetery Association, said, "Basically it's a sinkhole caused by all the wet moisture, the heavy snows and the fact that the snow melted and ran underground and because we're dealing with limestone, it just gave away."

Carr came out Friday evening and put cones in front of one of the openings. He locked the main gate on North 10th Street but is keeping a pedestrian gate open.

"Monday morning I'm going to get in touch with the Allentown Street Department and see if they've got some gravel or other fill that they can bring in here and help fill us in so we have it safe as quick as possible," said Carr.

The non-profit cemetery has 22,000 graves, the earliest dating back to 1854.

"It's not unusual for graves to sink. Now this is a little unusual in that it doesn't involve a grave but nonetheless it's the same soil throughout so with heavy rains or snow we're inevitably going to have this sort of thing," said Carr.

A few years ago a sinkhole opened up right outside the cemetery on North 10th Street. Officials were prepared to move 54 graves but ended up not needing to do so.

As for the current issue, Carr said, "We're going to fill it in just as quick as we can."

"That's really good," said Hector Ortiz.