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The problem:: A hole near an Owings Mills home remained unfilled for more than a year after a water leak.

The back story:: Mel Gofstein knows temptation when he sees it.

About a year ago, Baltimore public works staff repaired a leak in the roadway near his home in the 4800 block of Buxton Circle. Baltimore County workers came out to repair the damaged road afterward. But they failed to fix a hole near the curb that the public works crew had dug to get to a water meter, Gofstein said. That threatened a pole supporting a Verizon FiOS box, which was installed shortly before the leak.

"My first call was to the FiOS people because their box was sinking down," Gofstein said. They referred him to Baltimore County, saying the leak made it the county's responsibility. "The county ignored it," Gofstein said.

The FiOS inspectors did cover the hole with an orange safety cone to alert unsuspecting pedestrians of its presence. But Gofstein worried that children playing in the neighborhood might pick up the cone and wind up hurt.

"A lot of young kids are running around here, enjoying life as they may," he said.

Watchdog contacted Baltimore County's Department of Public Works to find out whether the hole could be fixed, and why it was not addressed for so long.

By Friday morning, the hole had been filled, said public works spokesman David Fidler. County workers also contacted Verizon about having the box moved away from the water line, according to Fidler.

"The county was informed about [the hole] and apparently sat upon it," Fidler said. "Why, I don't know."

The situation may have been complicated by the presence of Verizon's equipment - yet another entity to coordinate with, he said.

Who can fix this:: Robert "Tim" Burgess, chief, bureau of highways, Baltimore County Department of Public Works. Baltimore County residents should call 410-396-5352 to report water problems.


Need help?

Is there something in your neighborhood that's not getting fixed? Tell us where the problem is and how long it's been there by e-mailing watchdog@baltsun.com or calling 410-332-6735.

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