Gas Service was restored to 159 Lexington Avenue Monday at noon. Newly installed gaspipe is shown leading past playground where damp ground caused Housing Authority to contract for steampipe work. The scene Thursday evening. Photo by WPCNR.
City Hall and the White Plains Housing Authority reported today that gas service had been fully restored to all five buildings in the Winbrook complex as of Monday afternoon.
Residents had been without gas service and the ability to cook meals since last Monday, with Buildings 11, 33 and 225 having service restored Friday.
Reports that the gasline severed one week ago was "inactive," are in dispute, WPCNR has learned.
Ron Jackson, a member of the Winbrook Tenants Council, speaking on the "White Plains Week" television program airing Monday evening, said The Superintendent of Maintenance for the Housing Authority, Al Pio, the only Housing Authority officer on the premises at the time of the incident, told Mr. Jackson he immediately shut off the gas to all 5 buildings when workers who had severed the pipe informed him. Pio told Jackson that he did so because all 5 gaslines going to 135 and 159 Lexington Avenue, 11 & 33 Fisher Court and 225 Martin Luther King Boulevard tied into the severed line. Jackson, as a member of the Tenants Council, had contacted Pio to learn of the details last week, the day of the accident.
Jackson said on the program that the quick action of Mr. Pio in immediately closing the gas valve was a heroic, quick-thinking action, that prevented a major disaster.
Jackson also said that the actually cutting of the gas line was an accident caused by a backhoe. However, that report was not confirmed by city hall sources. They went further. Commissioner of Public Works, Joseph Nicoletti told WPCNR that the contractor had intentionally, but mistakenly cut the wrong pipe, attempting a repair, mistaking it for a steam line. Commissioner of Building, Mike Gismondi, also confirmed this.
In fact WPCNR has also learned from Commissioner of Building, Mr. Gismondi, that the contractor needed a permit from the Building Department to do any work on the pipes in question, including the steam pipe.
Gismondi said the work on the steampipe was authorized by the Housing Authority because of damp grounds, and evidence of leakage of the steam pipe buried by the playground on the premises.
Gismondi said that the contractor was within his rights to do "exploratory work," but as soon as the work crew touched the steam pipe, they needed a plumbing permit from the city. No permits were in effect when the gasline, (which was not clearly identified according to Gismondi), was severed by the contracting crew Monday July 30 approximately 12:30 PM. George Gretsas told WPCNR last week that the severed gasline puffed back blowing out a blowtorch the workers were attempting to use on what they thought was a steam pipe.
Jackson said workers kicked dirt on the pipe to extinguish a fire and that the workers notified Pio, who immediately shut off the gas to the complex. Jackson praised George Gretsas, the Mayor's Executive Officer, for calling in 10 plumbers to go through the buildings Monday afternoon and speed the return of hot water to all the buildings in the complex. The hot water service was back by midweek last week.
Mike Gismondi, commenting on the repair process Friday said that as of Friday afternoon all the vertical gas supply lines in all five buildings had been checked for airtightness and that buildings 159 and 135 were awaiting energizing, pending complete installation of a new "code compliant" gaspipe. As of Friday evening, buildings 11 and 33 Fisher Court and 225 Martin Luther King Boulevard had been "energized."
Actually, an incident on Sunday, July 29 indicated that the contractor perhaps was not operating with adequate information. WPCNR in talking to a resident of 225 Martin Luther King Boulevard, one of the buildings affected, said that during the exploratory work on Sunday, the workers digging the hole severed the cable television connection to the 225 building. This was confirmed by Jackson on the "White Plains Week" program.
|Trinity Lutheran Church, Bethel Baptist Church and Allen A M E Churches served 600 persons a day last week, feeding residents of Winbrook who could not cook due to severed gasline. The scene Thursday evening at 7 PM at Bethel Baptist Church. Photo by WPCNR.|
Jackson also reported on "White Plains Week" that the Reverend Daly Barnes, Jr., Pastor of Bethel Baptist Church helped organize serving of meals in the church premises on Fisher Court and at Trinity Lutheran Church and the Allen AME Church. Barnes reported to WPCNR he served 600 meals last Wednesday and 500 meals last Thursday to residents. He organized the relief effort with volunteers, church funds and served lunch and dinner for a week. He served his last meal Monday at noon.
Allen AME Church, Bethel Baptist Church and Trinity Lutheran Church made a combined team effort to feed hundreds in Winbrook complex. Stop N Shop contributed water. Reverend Barnes obtained food and fish contributions at reduced cost from two food sources.
|A volunteer keeps records of each family taking meals at Bethel Baptist Church Thursday evening.|
Louis Cappelli, the developer, when he read of the accident last week, sent $1,000 checks to Allen AME Church, Bethel Baptist Church and Trinity Lutheran Church to supplement the relief effort. Robert Greer and Benjamin Boykin, Councilpersons made cash donations, and Glen Hockley, a candidate for Common Council, arranged a donation of bread to the church effort.
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