Homeowners demand fixes for sinkholes, homes

Residents of a peaceful Pelham Gardens block say underground streams are causing the ground to open up and their houses to shift.
Dan Raia videotaped a large sinkhole in front of his Tiemman Avenue home last year. Paula Gelman and her husband say the problem forced them to move out of the home they shared for 22 years. In addition to sinkholes, about 12 other area homeowners have reported cracks in the walls, ceilings and sidewalks.
According to Raia, the city has sent out crews to test the underground sewer and water system. "Mobilize these city agencies, between the DOT and the DEP," Raia says. "It's been a nightmare. They've been here with their inspectors at least 10 times."
Community Board 11 is pushing for a permanent solution. "Don't just put blacktop on it, don't just do a 'feel good' fix," says board member John Fratta. The board wants an emergency survey conducted, saying the area could be shifting.
The Gelmans say they plan to sue the city to pay for repairs.