Families to leave complex early Vandalized transformer ousts Lexington residents

April 19, 1996|By Robert Guy Matthews and Miranda Barnes | Robert Guy Matthews and Miranda Barnes,SUN STAFF

More than 50 families will be forced to move out of the Lexington Terrace housing complex next week after vandals destroyed a 300,000-volt transformer that left them without electricity.

Yesterday, the power problems at the housing development were exacerbated when repair crews ruptured a water main, killing electricity at an adjacent high-rise and shorting out the mobile generators brought in to replace the vandalized XTC transformer.

The families, already scheduled to vacate the development because of its planned demolition in July, were left without electricity Monday night when vandals, apparently looking for copper, destroyed the transformer outside the 770 W. Saratoga St. high-rise.

The water main flooded the basement at 701 W. Mulberry St., but Housing Authority officials estimated that the power would be restored by late last night.

"These are families that were a month or two weeks away from moving anyway," said Housing Authority spokesman Zack Germroth. "So this should not be a total inconvenience, but certainly it cramps the system a little bit."

The 52 families scheduled to be relocated are residents of the low-rise buildings around West Saratoga Street.

Housing officials said that the vandalized transformer would not be replaced.

"What we are doing is accelerating the [transfer of the] 52 families that are affected because this is not a situation you want to go on operating indefinitely," Mr. Germroth said. "The mobile transformer is not designed to sit there for weeks."

Housing officials are speeding up repairs at scores of vacant units across the city to accommodate the displaced families, Mr. Germroth said.

Families with children will be given special consideration to allow them to move close to the Lexington Terrace complex so that the children can continue going to the same schools. But some families will be transferred out of their school zones, officials said.

"That is a hardship and we will provide transportation," Mr. Germroth said.

Some residents were frustrated at the power outages and the accelerated moving process.

"I am really upset," said Deborah Williams, who lives in one of the low-rise buildings. "It's an inconvenience. You try to pack in the dark."

Mr. Germroth said the moves will begin early next week.

Pub Date: 4/19/96

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