Electrical System Fails At Senior Housing Site

June 23, 1991|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff writer

A corroding electrical system at Burwood Gardens broke down last week, leaving several hundred seniors without power and prompting housing officials to call for an overhaul.

The deteriorating cables easily might fail again and cause another major power outage at the 200-unit complex in Glen Burnie, John Wenzel, maintenance supervisor for the county Housing Authority, warned Thursday night.

"We know in most sections of the (cable) loop, the grounding wireis not there," he told the authority Thursday night. "We know we have other breaks."

Burwood Gardens, one of the county's five communities for low-income seniors, lost power for more than 24 hours when aweak cable blew Wednesday morning. The break also apparently set a nearby switch station afire.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. blamed problems with the system for an explosion at its neighborhood stationWednesday night, which cut electricity to surrounding homes and stores. Emergency cables were installed the next morning, while BG & E replaced the switch and the county Housing Authority finished repairingits defective wires.

"The electricity came back on for a couple minutes and went right back off again," said Lillian Smith, a Burwood resident and wife of the tenant council president. "It was an inconvenience, but it's back up and running now."

Power was fully restored by 10 p.m. Thursday, said BG & E spokeswoman Peggy Mulloy.

Wenzel asked the agency's governing board that night to approve extensive repairs of the 20-year-old electrical system, which could include replacing all underground cables.

The board will seek emergency moneyfrom the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to repair or replace deteriorated cables.

Wenzel said the maintenance staff was prepared to move Burwood residents to other housing, but none wanted to leave. Most residents just went to sleep, he said.

In otherbusiness, the board discussed performance standards being developed by Housing and Urban Development to judge how well public housing is run. Chairman Charles St. Lawrence noted that the agency must lower its vacancy rate and speed up renovating and leasing vacant units.

* Voted to send a letter to Councilman David G. Boschert, D-Crownsville, informing him that six flooded units at the Stoney Hill senior complex probably won't be remodeled for a year.

* Approved a vacancyreport showing 77 vacant units, down from 91 last month. The turnover rate has dropped because maintenance workers are renovating larger units, said Sandra Ervin, acting executive director.

* Received copies of an extensive audit proposal from St. Lawrence. The chairman first mentioned the audit in February, but said in May that he had a proposal at home and wasn't sure what he planned to do with it.

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