Grafton Jones was startled awake on Wednesday morning by a loud noise, only to discover that a section of his backyard had collapsed onto the roof of an autobody shop below.
Describing the sound as resembling two trucks colliding, he quickly checked his camera footage and witnessed the entire wall collapsing.
Firefighters were quick to respond, arriving just before 7 a.m. Thankfully, the collapse affected five residential buildings and three businesses without causing any injuries.
According to neighbors, the approximately 50-foot-tall wall, composed of dirt and stone, bordered their backyards along Anthony Avenue, situated on a hill. Concerns about cracks in the wall have been raised over the years.
Dwayne Olin, a neighbor, expressed the sentiment that the incident was anticipated, stating, “We have been waiting for this to happen.
We knew it was going to happen because you can see from the water and the snow this was going to happen. The wall was actually cracking already.”
Residents revealed a longstanding dispute with the city dating back to the early 2000s, where they had been seeking repairs.
A recent meeting with the Department of Buildings yielded discouraging news, as they were informed that the cost of fixing the wall did not fall under the city’s responsibility.
Jones explained the complexity, saying, “The wall extends beyond our property, and the wall contains the property in the back and these properties in front. So it’s impossible for us to see how we own the wall. We went to get drawings, and the architect says the city owns the wall.”
Contrary to the residents’ claims, the Department of Buildings disputed ownership, stating that the retaining wall is on private property.
The department asserted that when a retaining wall spans multiple property lots, all property owners share joint responsibility for its maintenance.
The Department of Buildings emphasized ongoing investigations into the collapse and revealed that, before the incident, repair orders had been issued to the property owners.