Residents were kayaking on this 'pool' that formed in a construction ditch

Less than 12 hours after Billy Penn reported on a giant construction ditch in Kensington full of water so deep that neighbors were kayaking in it, the developer of the site has taken a step toward fixing the problem.

River Wards resident Jordan Baumgarten, who snapped the original kayak pic, said on Tuesday evening the pit had been outfitted with a pump, which was funneling the water onto the street.

Developer Roman Sosalski confirmed he’s currently draining the hole, slowly but surely. He’s also installed locks on every fence panel surrounding the site to prevent any more trespassing.

“Water has receded quite a bit since yesterday,” Sosalski said. “We’ll continue to pump the site intermittently to keep it under control to the best of our ability.”

The Locale Philly realtor told Billy Penn last week that he first dug the hole at 1836 York St. about 90 days ago to build a basement for a planned 25,000-sq.-ft. mixed-used development. The required preliminary report didn’t indicate any water issues, he said. When the hole began filling up, he halted construction.

Workers tried to pump out the water, per the developer, but it filled back up again right away. He had no idea nearby residents were using it for waterborne activities.

“I have not seen that,” Sosalski said on learning about the impromptu boating. “That is not good.”

Sosalski said he’s waiting on new permits from the Department of Licenses and Inspections so he can move forward with fixing the problem. But L&I spokesperson Karen Guss said the department hasn’t received his application yet.

“Construction sites can become flooded but this much water in a large hole is rare,” Guss said. “As [a] consequence, structural and architectural plans must be redone. The project is on hold until design professionals finish this revision and submit for L&I approval.”

Michaela Winberg is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn. She covers LGBTQ people and culture, public spaces, and transportation and mobility. She also sometimes produces radio and web features...