of The Villages News
By Larry D. Croom
Published September 24, 2018
Crews from Rainey Construction continued to make repairs
Monday on a failed pipe that has wreaked havoc on some residents in the Village
Work got under way on
the damaged stormwater drain system on Winifred Way on Sept.
6 after two large holes and a sunken area appeared in the
front yard of a Designer home owned by Carol Thomas. The
holes, one of which was about four feet deep and extended
underneath Thomas’ damaged driveway at 733 Winifred Way,
opened up following a large-scale cleaning of the storm
drains in the neighborhood.
According to a recent email from Sumter County Administrator
Bradley Arnold following the storm drain cleaning, there was
“no alternative” but to replace the damaged pipe that caused
Once the work started, crews were forced to dig up large
sections of the pavement and portions of several front yards
and driveways. Piles of dirt lined what was left of the
roadway and large, gaping holes were visible in several
Heavy machinery was called in for use in making the repairs
and crews have spent long days working on the problem so
those Villagers who have been displaced can return to their
homes. That heavy machinery also included a line of dump
trucks in the normally quiet neighborhood that were needed
in the efforts to complete the work.
Workers take a close look at the damaged stormwater drain
pipe that caused large holes in a Villager’s front yard on Winifred Way.
As of Monday afternoon, eight homeowners had been displaced
and couldn’t access their homes. Four have no potable water and two still are
without sewer service.
But crews hope to have the repairs completed by the end of
the week, with a goal of having sewer and water services
restored to the affected homes by Wednesday. Until then,
residents inconvenienced by the work are being put up at the
Hampton Inn & Suites on County Road 466, with the county
reportedly picking up the tab.
Last month, a smaller hole that opened up in the pavement on
Evans Prairie Trail also was blamed on a failed stormwater
pipe. Shortly after that hole appeared, Arnold sent
Villages-News.com several photos that were taken inside the
pipe that clearly showed where it had been compromised below
the opening in the roadway. He said the county regularly
schedules cleaning, inspection and repairs to stormwater
pipes in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown in an effort to
“prevent surprises” on the infrastructure that originally
was built by The Villages and later turned over to the
county to maintain.
At the end of July, a hole very similar to the one on Evans
Prairie Trail opened up at the corner of County Road 466 and
County Road 101 – just a few feet away from a storm drain.
That hole, which was located at the corner of the
intersection in the northbound lane of CR 101, forced
officials to close a portion of the roadway at the entrance
to the Village of Summerhill, just west of the Southern
Trace Plaza and across from The Villages High School, until
it was repaired a few days later.
A pipe where a sinkhole opened up earlier this year in
the Village of Calumet Grove continues to be viewed with suspicion by
And residents of McLawren Terrace in the Village of Calumet
Grove still are dealing with sinkholes that have devastated their neighborhood
and forced a long-term closure of portions of that roadway. Many who live in
that neighborhood – concerns about property values have been expressed more than
once – believe a damaged pipe that was visible after the first wave of holes
opened up in February could be the culprit.
A second group of sinkholes opened in May and took out part
of the roadway and portions of two front yards. Two other sinkholes opened up in
those yards and a fourth reopened underneath the adjoining lake on the golf
course behind the homes.
But crews can’t assess that entire situation until the homeowner of one of the
two heavily damaged houses makes a decision about what to do with her property.
Engineering experts have recommended that it be razed and the ground beneath it
stabilized before crews begin to work on the pipe in question. And District
Manager Richard Baier has made it clear that he will follow their
recommendations in the name of keeping his work crews safe.