SEATTLE – Streets have buckled, sidewalks have cracked and some homes have suffered thousands of dollars of damage in a neighborhood that’s sinking as water drains out of the peat bog beneath it.
The first sign of trouble at Diann Knezovich’s came three years ago, when the plant boxes outside her Greenwood home started leaning farther and farther to the side.
Then walls of her house began cracking, the doors wouldn’t close, and she figured out one half of her house was sinking.
She paid a contractor $25,000 to jack half of the home upright and rest it on pillars that stand on a more stable layer of sand below the bog.
“That’s $25,000 we’re never going to see again,” she said.
Knezovich and some of her neighbors blame the city for letting builders channel water away from the bog so it wouldn’t flood construction sites.
Alan Justad, spokesman for Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development, said the city is taking steps to keep future developments from doing more damage.
The city will require environmental reviews on all new projects in the area to make sure steps are taken to minimize water loss from the ground. It’s also exploring whether there’s a way to replenish the bog.
In the meantime, those who live and work in the neighborhood in the city’s north end bemoan the damage that’s already been done.
Neighborhood activist Kate Martin stood on the sinking side of Palatine Avenue North near North 87th Street – a spot where cars can no longer park. A few feet away the middle of the road came up to her waist.
A block north cars dip and rise as if they were on a roller coaster, and a block to the east, decorative wooden pillars that once stood firmly planted on a sidewalk near a Chinese restaurant now dangle in the air.
Last spring, Martin and her 12-year-old son decided to spruce up the street in front of a local theater and put in plants by the trees.
Then North 85th Street sagged and flooded when the rains came. Now passing cars splash the standing water all the way across the sidewalk. It’s washed out nearly everything the Martins planted, save a few scraggly remnants.
“It’s destroyed everything we did,” she said.
New developments aren’t the only source of the problem. Many buildings in the neighborhood pump water away from the bog to keep their basements from flooding – and so the sinking continues.
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