More fingerpointing over Harrisburg sinkholes

The finger pointing continues in Harrisburg over funding to repair the sinkholes in the 1400 block of South Fourteenth Street.

In the past year, more than 30 sinkholes opened up and 52 homes were affected. At least nine are condemned.

Two weeks ago, Harrisburg’s Mayor Eric Papenfuse sent a letter to the Dauphin County Commissioners claiming nothing is being done to help the residents.

This morning at the Dauphin County Commissioners meeting, they said Harrisburg was to blame.

“HUD has taken an initial look at the city’s application and found it to be deficient in more than a dozen different areas,” Dauphin County Chief Clerk Chad Saylor said. “Most importantly, the city engineer failed to show a connection between the floods of 2001 and the sinkholes of 2013, and that’s a very crucial element in order to get assistance for flood damage.”

Papenfuse responded by saying: “Not correct, the city has submitted that information. We have a study from Gannett Fleming which shows the connectivity. The people that are saying that linkage has not been made are county-paid consultants, not HUD.”

“it’s very frustrating for us to get a letter from the mayor attacking us when all we’re trying to do is help,” Saylor said

“I’m sure Mount Papenfuse will erupt again, but you’re directive to me has been crystal clear, which is to do everything we can to help the citizens of South Harrisburg with the sinkhole problem,” he added.

“Well, I don’t know what that’s about,” Papenfuse responded. “Clearly there’s a way the county can be helpful to the city in proritizing this funding for a very important cause and there’s a way they can be unhelpful, and they’ve chosen to be unhelpful, I think, for political reasons.”

The county says money is still available and HUD is ready to move forward, it’s just waiting for more information from the city.

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