The fight to save crumbling homes is developing an aroma of cooperation.
Homeowners, city leaders and operators of a gravel pit that many blame for damage to homes caused by slipping land say they will all assist in attempts to find and solve the problem.Those involved say the attitude shift is needed to save the homes and to prevent future damage.
"I would much rather see pictures of us working together than with mad looking faces," said Richard Johnson, a representative for residents of Springhill Subdivision.
Several homes on the city's east side, most located in Springhill Subdivision, have damage caused by moving land. One home has been condemned because of extensive damage to its foundation.
In an effort to keep heads level and chairs on the floor, only a handful of residents attended Tuesday night's City Council meeting where solutions to the problem were discussed.
"It's an emotional issue," Johnson said. "We only will have a few people at each meeting, so it doesn't turn into a Jerry Springer show."
First and foremost, holes will be drilled near the homes where measuring instruments, called inclinometers, will be placed to determine the type of soil the homes sit on and how much movement is occurring, said Gary Christenson of the Utah Geological Survey.
Determining the soil types will play a major role in deciding the immediate corrective measures. If the soils are expansive, as geologists expect, they would expand when saturated and shrink when dried out. If this is the case, Christenson said draining the area, a common preventive measure, could cause more damage than it prevents. As saturated soil shrinks, it further unsettles the housing foundations.
If a slow landslide is occurring, another distinct possibility, eliminating water from the soil would help stabilize the ground, at least until next spring's runoff.
Whatever preventive measures are taken would have to last at least a year, the estimated time of the testing. Waiting that long is not desirable to residents of the subdivision.
"Of all the landslides this year, this one has the greatest chance of causing the most damage, because there are so many homes," he said, referencing similar problems experienced in other Wasatch Front cities, namely Layton.
Concrete Products Co., operator of the North Salt Lake gravel pit, will provide to the council, geologists and residents, data from its engineering studies that were conducted during expansion of the pit and grading of roads. Some residents blame the slippage on work done at the pit.
"We will continue to work with the city and share any information that is pertinent," said John Burggraf, pit manager for CPC.
The company has also contacted two engineering firms about the possibility of further studies, Burggraf said.
The testing is estimated to cost between $37,000 and $42,000. Some of the funding will likely come from money allocated to road improvements in the subdivision, which won't be completed until the slippage problems are resolved. Council members expressed hope that everyone in-volved would contribute to the remaining funds needed. This would include residents, gravel pit operators, future developers, and current, unaffected homeowners in the area.