Homeowner Fights Cause of Backyard Cave-Ins

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SCRANTON -- Albert Young says he`s been complaining for 50 years about the effects of a creek running underground through his back yard in Scranton`s Green Ridge neighborhood.

Help is on the way.

But not anytime soon.

Some area homeowners wonder if they will ever get the help they say, they were promised.

They claim the stream in Scranton creates dangerous holes in their backyards.

The grass is summertime green in Albert Young`s Wyoming Avenue back yard in Scranton.

But he warned Action 16 Investigator Dave Bohman not to step on certain patches.

"If I were to put my foot down here?" Bohman asked Albert.

"Well your life is in your hands, responded the homeowner. "Seriously, because there is a six foot hole down there."

Six feet beneath the surface, an underground stream runs from nearby Dunmore through Young`s back yard and five others.

He says cave-ins have plagued his home for half a century.

"If this is not finished soon, then it is only going to get worse," said Young.

Steel plates cover holes and soft spots.

And Albert Young says he can`t use his backyard driveway.

"We can`t legally or rightfully park a car back here, for fear that we`ll find it in the underground some morning," Young observed.

Albert Young is frustrated.

Records show the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection  spent $12 million in 2007 to fortify ground over the underground stream from just a quarter of a mile from Young's Green Ridge home, protecting property all the way to the nearby Lackawanna River.

Back then the state also set aside another $8 million for phase two of the project, to protect the property of Young and his neighbors.

Why is it taking so long?

"Workload," points out DEP spokeswoman Colleen Connolly.  "Workload, staff cutbacks, we`re all aware Harrisburg is making staff cutbacks."

Connolly says her agency's engineers have a backlog of projects of several years and adds, Scranton's Meadowbrook project will get done. Eventually.

"Two to three years for the design work, and getting all that in place, we could be looking at 2018," Connelly said.  "And its tough to say, but that`s reality."

Albert Young will be 77 in 2018.

"I just feel like I`ve come up against a stone wall," said Young.

Albert Young doesn`t want to wait. But he wonders if could even sell a house with steel plates covering part of the back yard, and a driveway where just parking could cause a cave-in.