When life gives you Lemons, you make lemonade.
Robert “Robin” Matheny can finally rest easy.
His house of 37 years, the one he raised his kids in, the one that’s only a few feet away from the infamous Jonesville sinkhole and is now unlivable, netted him a hefty sum.
Now, he lives at the Villas of West End.
“We’re renting a condo,” he said, “and I’m trying to convince my wife that it’s better living.”
The cavernous sinkhole that appeared overnight last month and forced the Mathenys out of their home was bigger on Monday. The hole, now estimated at 140 feet long and 80 feet wide, has grown about 10 feet in length and 40 feet in width since mid May.
A shed containing holiday decorations and other family memories had hung precariously near the lip of the hole but was removed recently by a company with a winch. Matheny got his things out. A carport also was removed.
“I feel very relieved to get the shed out,” he said, adding that his wife wanted the decorations back. “If mama’s happy, I’m happy.”
Inside, the gaping hole itself looked like a piece of a golf course, with grass in the middle. Bricks, a grill and a cooler were in the hole, too.
Though he was paid for the house by the insurance company, Matheny is trying to sell his property. He said he has talked to companies that buy sinkhole properties. Though none has made an offer, he said he thinks he’ll probably get “pennies on the dollar” for it.
He said he doesn’t want to buy another place, and the idea of not having to take care of a lawn appeals to him.
“You hear that?” he asks, pointing to a neighbor’s house. “They’re out there mowing, and I’m not.”
He said the hole should soon “bowl out” and that geologists told him it shouldn’t spread to other areas.
Chris Bird, Alachua County’s environmental protection director, said sinkholes will be more common because of the drought. Anthony Randazzo, a principal at the firm Geohazards Inc., which inspects properties before and after sinkholes develop, said more probably will develop, though he said he doesn’t know how many.
A neighbor across the street said sinkholes in the area are common but that Matheny’s is quite large. He said sometimes people come by to see it, and he has to ask them to leave. He said he’s going to miss the Matheny family, his neighbors for 17 years.
“He was a good neighbor,” the man said. “I hate to see him go.”