GOSHEN – The owner of a downtown Goshen bar was hurt in a bizarre accident last month.
He fell through the sidewalk into an aging underground vault.
You might be surprised to learn these vaults exist underneath sidewalks outside a lot of business, and the city has started a program to deal with the problem.
For the last couple of weeks, City Inspector Tony Cano and a fire inspector have been checking out large aging vaults. All sit under the sidewalks in front of a number of downtown Goshen businesses. Some were used years ago to store coal and later to move or store goods in businesses.
“It is really interesting to see how businesses were done back in the day, late 1800's, and there was businesses under most of all the businesses downtown,” said Cano.
And it was a vault under the Dew Drop Inn that collapsed on July 21st when a man walked over it. He fell 10 feet and hit the surface underneath, was hurt but survived. That incident prompted the city to begin inspections of all underground vaults.
“They have been meeting with property owners and business owners and going into each area to determine what needs to be looked at,” said City Engineer Mary Cripe.
An area of concern is the ceiling underneath the sidewalk. Large wooden support beams have been installed.
“Certain degree of deterioration, some more severe than others, again, all the ones that are really a certain concern for the city, have been shored up,” said Cano.
So far, he has helped survey about 80% of the businesses in the downtown area - roughly 40, and of those, 5 have required temporary reinforcement.
“We need to make sure that everybody is safe,” said Cripe. “We will be looking at future projects along the Main Street corridor, with sidewalks and filling in the vaults.”
Meanwhile, the inspections will continue.
As of now, underground vaults still have to be checked at 10 or 15 more downtown businesses in Goshen.