• Building in precarious position due to hillside collapsing


    A building on observatory hill is in a precarious position because of a hillside behind it that's collapsing.

    "If you look above, see how that's swayed. It's right where the water is coming in. Now these trees are going to go down pretty soon, and it's going to continue to go to the sidewalk and Perrysville Avenue," said Ray Kasunick, who bought the property in 2011.
    Kasunick has crossed his T's and dotted his I's, and has documented every step in his battle with the City of Pittsburgh, PWSA, Allegheny County, and PennDOT. When he first purchased the property, he'd planned to open a laundromat, but then discovered the hillside behind the property was moving.


    "As you can see, it's starting to continue to slide," said Kasunick.

    Kasunick built a retaining wall, but that has now moved as well. Kasunick suspects the source of the problem is either a sewage or water leak. He reached out to both the city and PWSA, but didn't get anywhere. He also had the water tested by two environmental companies, which confirmed what he suspected.

    "Bromine, caffeine, amoxicillin, fecal matter," said Kasunick.

    Those substances are clear indicators of a sewer. But PWSA tested the water as well, and they said it's ground water, and not their problem. Kasunick, feeling he was out of options, filed a lawsuit. 


    PWSA and PennDOT both declined to comment because of pending litigation. Councilwoman Darlene Harris said she's tried to facilitate a solution, but has been unable to because of the conflicting test results.

    "He's had it done twice, and I've contacted PWSA and they've had it done twice. There hasn't been anything resolved, and I hate to see his property ruined by this," said Harris.

    Kasunick has already paid more than forty thousand dollars for the environmental studies and legal fees. He said he's prepared to go to trial, but hopes it doesn't come to that.

    "I'm not here to beat the system or anything like that. It comes down to what's right is right. It's sad whenever there's an issue nobody will admit guilt to it," said Kasunick.

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