A group of parents and children practicing baseball discovered a sinkhole on the grounds of South Elementary school Sunday afternoon. Police responded, officers noting that it was the first call of its kind in the city in their memory.
The hole at the surface was slightly larger than a basketball, opening to a larger cavern underneath, where the children's baseball wound up, well out of reach. Police estimated that the sink hole was 10-15 feet deep.
According to South Principal Ed Rude, the hole opened up at the site of the former South Elementary, near the current school playground. When the old school was torn down a number of years ago, a portion of the old gym area was left in its below-ground location, as well as some of the debris from the demolition that was simply covered with soil at the time. Some old brick could be seen in the sinkhole.
The site of the hole had been slowly sinking recently. School staff concerned about standing water had filled in the sunken area with sand.
Officers feared that the area around the small hole could cave in and possibly result in injuries, especially if expected rains soaked the playground area. They immediately used a couple of picnic tables on the school grounds to cover the hole. Plans were for school or city officials to fence or cordon off the area prior to school on Monday, while district officials seek a permanent solution to fill in and stabilize the area.