The centerpiece of a popular park is turning into a nightmare for taxpayers. Murfreesboro officials have spent nearly a half-million dollars to fix a pond that keeps leaking, but there could be even more problems below the surface.
City engineers are hoping a dirt and concrete fill hole is the fix to an ongoing problem where water drains from the lower Gateway Island pond off Medical Center Parkway.
"When they filled it back up [last week], within 24 to 48 hours it all went away again and a very large hole appeared," said Amy Jacobs, a local photographer.
Jacobs is concerned about what she believes is a sinkhole at the popular wedding and events venue.
"[I think of] the stories on the news of people's houses collapsing and people losing their lives," Jacobs said. "Sinkholes are nothing to play around with."
Repairs to the pond were completed last week, or at least city engineers thought.
Engineers are stopping short of calling it a sinkhole. Instead, they're referring to it as a dropout or void.
"A lot of time in Murfreesboro, whenever you have bedrock exposed like that, you can get a lot of dropouts or voids opening up in the crevices around the rock," said Chris Griffith, a Murfreesboro city engineer.
The city recently spent upwards of $370,000 putting a 2-foot soil cap to seal several voids and another $10,000 to $15,000 on the latest 14 feet deep, 12 feet wide, 15 feet long hole. In all, taxpayers have shoveled out nearly $500,000 on repairs.
"It's money just going down the drain literally and they don't seem to know where the water is going," Jacobs said.
Murfreesboro resident Harvey Barrett visits the Gateway Island almost daily to feed the ducks. He too is worried that there may be more holes underneath the ground.
"I'm afraid it's going to be another sinkhole and it's going to swallow people up," Barrett said.
Another concern for residents is the land next to the Gateway Island and walking trail, which used to be the city landfill, but officials said that has nothing to do with the problems with the pond.
Now that the repairs have been made, city engineers said they can't guarantee there won't be future problems.
"As you fill it up with water, we may find one or two more failure areas," Griffith said.
City engineers said they are not sure if water pressure on pipes near the circulation systems installed in the pond or a natural dropout caused the latest hole to open up.
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