Americo “Ves” Pivetta uncovered one sinkhole that measured 30 feet in diameter, with a depth of 15 to 20 feet.
“If you were standing there when it happened you could disappear and nobody would know where to find you,” said the Dannemora supervisor.
That’s one of the reasons he wants unauthorized people to stay off the Town of Dannemora property in Lyon Mountain off the Power House Road.
“If you are not authorized you should not be up there, because you could disappear in seconds.”
Republic Steel deeded the property to Dannemora in 1967 when it shut down its mining operation.
Over the years, people have dumped debris, old televisions and refrigerators and other trash on the property.
It’s not public property and Pivetta has been trying to keep trespassers off it.
But the main issue, he said, is safety.
“I am trying to keep people off our town property, and the reason is the sinkholes,” Pivetta said. “I believe in every mining town this happens.”
Sinkholes are natural depressions in the earth’s surface caused by the chemical dissolution of carbonate or suffusion processes. They vary in size and can be formed gradually or suddenly.
Pivetta is concerned about young people riding all terrain vehicles on the property. Many of them drive up to the sand pile, he said.
He has not had as many complaints since installing a gate. But he said it’s difficult to stop them.
“You can’t stop teenagers,” Pivetta said. “They are quick on their ATVs.”
Ultimately, he said, only authorized people can enter that property. Some of the organizations he has given keys to include the fire and sheriff’s departments and the New York State Police.
Law enforcement will ticket trespassers and anyone who dumps trash their, Pivetta stressed.
“I am just trying to keep people from using the property for entertainment,” he said. “The young people with ATVs go up to the sand pile, and I am trying to keep them off for their own safety.”