Tenants steamed by hot, cold

March 24, 1995|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

Earlier this week, residents of Glen Square, a public housing complex for senior citizens in Glen Burnie, were using their ovens and space heaters to keep warm. Yesterday, they thought they were living in a sauna as indoor temperatures climbed into the high 80s.

"It's from one drastic sense to the other," said Shawn Harrie, whose 79-year-old grandmother, Ruth Butschky, has lived at Glen Square five years. "You're either freezing or sweating."

Most residents have been complaining, said a 66-year-old woman who didn't want to be identified.

"It's too cold. It's too hot. They can't put it on medium," she said.

The five-story building at Crain Highway and Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard operates on an all-or-nothing, single gas-fired system. The radiant heat is either on or off for all tenants, who can adjust the temperature from individual controls in their rooms, said Jerry Young, manager of Glen Square.

The heat stays on until April, then air conditioning comes on in early May, she said.

"It's just with this weather, it's up and down. The heat is up and down," said Ms. Young.

She said the heat was turned low last weekend after residents complained it was too hot and was turned back up after they complained Monday they had been cold over the weekend.

The fluctuating temperatures are a recurring problem at Glen Square. In early October 1993, residents complained that they wore sweaters and used ovens and space heaters to keep warm on nights when outdoor temperatures dipped into the low 30s.

Wednesday night, Martha Hickman, 86, bundled up in sweaters, put extra blankets on her bed and used a small space heater to stay warm.

"I couldn't say I was freezing, but I was uncomfortable," she said. "What I was afraid of is so many have colds and if I got pneumonia. I didn't know what it would do with this stroke."

Mrs. Hickman's son, Ted Hickman, 59, said he called the building's 24-hour answering service Wednesday to complain and was told "the system would be on by morning, but the answering service didn't know what the problem was."

Everyone understands that problems do occur, his wife, Dot, said. "But when you got 30 degrees looking you in the face and elderly people involved and it's the middle of the night, you want more than 'I don't know.' "

The Hickmans called County Councilman James "Ed" DeGrange who represents Glen Burnie, Wednesday.

"Some people, I was told, were using ovens to heat as well as supplemental space heaters. And that seemed like a very dangerous situation to me," Mr. DeGrange said.

"Some of these residents are in poor health. I could picture a catastrophe happening, and we certainly wouldn't want that to happen."

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