Sinkhole at Ridgeview Elementary School (Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press)
A roughly 8-foot-by-12-foot sinkhole was discovered Monday in the back parking lot at Ridgeview Elementary School in Gray.
But unlike the massive sinkhole found last year in Erwin about 30 feet from the Love Chapel Elementary School building, the finding at Ridgeview is not considered to be dangerous and Washington County officials have notified engineers, who are expected to examine and recommend fixes.
Washington County Schools Maintenance Supervisor Phillip Patrick was informed Monday about the sinkhole and said Thursday the perimeter was immediately cordoned off and will remain so until the problem is remedied.
There appears to be a large corrugated water or sewer pipe running through the middle of the large opening.
“I got a call early Monday morning,” he said Thursday afternoon. “We decided to contact Tony Street (of Beeson Lusk & Street Architects). He’s going to contact an engineer. He’ll do some soil boring to determine the various types of remediation possible. I can say it has not grown in size since I was first informed about it.”
More than 100 children were inside Ridgeview’s hallways Thursday practicing tornado drills. They are at the school for a summer program, and all were having a good time.
Principal Peggy Greene said from the school that no one is in danger.
“It’s at the very end of the back parking lot, almost as far away from the school as you can get,” she said.
Love Chapel Elementary School eventually was closed due to the proximity of the sinkhole to the school. The Unicoi County Board of Education unanimously voted in April to close the school after receiving the results of testing that deemed the property unsafe.
The sinkhole at Love Chapel was discovered in August by someone near the area. Crews dumped about 100 tons of rock in the sinkhole — which grew to around 25 feet in diameter and was located only feet from the school’s playground and the school itself — in order to stabilize it before measurements were taken. These measurements indicated the hole was around 120 feet deep, with the last 25 feet being water.