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East Aurora braces for second round of sinkhole repairs

The East Aurora sinkhole of November 2017 still haunts restaurateur Michael DiJoseph, who nearly lost his business to a 16-foot crater created when a culvert under Main Street collapsed.

Mikey Dee’s Café & Catering was closed for 35 days, and a food truck was damaged after a portion of DiJoseph’s parking lot gave way during heavy rains and flooding.

A nervous DiJoseph is bracing for another round of construction that will require the removal of a wooden fence he just replaced.

“They’re going to tear it down again,” DiJoseph said. “It’s just going to be a constant fight over everything – again.”

Emergency repairs replaced parts of the large underground drainage pipe that diverts water behind businesses into Tannery Brook, but the rest of the pipe also requires repair, said Cathryn C. Thomas, village administrator.

The culvert repair project is expected to cost $2.1 million and take three months to complete, added Thomas.

Clark Patterson Lee, an architecture, engineering and planning firm based in Rochester, already submitted the engineering plans and bid specifications. But the village is requiring a second engineering and construction firm, Greenman-Pedersen Inc., to conduct a peer review of the plans submitted by Clark Patterson Lee, Thomas confirmed.

The engineering review is expected to be complete by the end of February, when a public meeting for stakeholders will be scheduled for early March, said Thomas.

Businesses who lease a privately owned lot adjacent to Mikey Dee’s parking lot include the Bank of Holland, Snap Fitness, Pure Essence Salon & Spa, Bar-Bill Tavern and a dental practice. Some businesses located directly above the culvert will be affected, including the bank’s drive-thru operations.

“Timing of the project has a lot to do with the level of the water in the culvert. The optimum time to work is a dry time, not when the pipe is full of water,” Thomas said. “Repairing the culvert will again shut down the parking lot for months.”

In a related construction development, Tim Stroth was hired by the village as special project coordinator for the second phase of the Oakwood Avenue reconstruction project.

Stroth, 59, a village resident who also serves on the Zoning Board of Appeals, will replace Paul Gasiewicz, the previous project coordinator whose professional experience included the Main Street makeover more than a decade ago.

The second part of the two-phase Oakwood project began this month. It is expected to be complete by the end of August.

The project called for waterline and sewer replacement, drainage improvements and a total reconstruction of the road, including replacement of curbs and sidewalks along a one-mile stretch of Oakwood that runs from Olean to Hamburg streets.

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