Water pipe project is turning Butchers Hill into Geyser Hill Residents soaked, angry over damage to homes

June 05, 1996|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

Fifty-foot geysers are springing up from temporary water pipes in Butchers Hill, causing thousands of dollars in damage to rowhouses and sparking panic and anger among residents.

When a careless driver ran over a temporary pipe snaking along South Madeira Street this week, water shot into the air, through the front windows of Bernard Blunt's house and over the roof. The soaking lasted an hour.

Jennifer Lucas' rowhouse, also on Madeira Street, has been damaged three times. The latest was yesterday morning when another 2-inch steel pipe was run over and the water streamed into her basement.

"The neighbors have been yelling and kicking their heels" about the deluges, Lucas said. "It is pretty bad, and it has happened over and over again."

The East Baltimore neighborhood is part of a city project to clean and repair underground water pipes.

For the project, a series of exposed, temporary pipes are being used as replacements.

But drivers often run over and damage the exposed pipes that run along the curbs.

Blunt said repairs to his home will cost about $15,000.

Lucas said she filed a claim with her insurance company for about $10,000 in damage.

Residents say that they have called the contractor working on the project, Spiniello Construction Co., but get only an answering service.

Spiniello officials said yesterday that they have logged only one complaint, which came from Blunt.

Public Works Director George G. Balog said yesterday that water damage is not the city's fault.

"Under the terms of the contract, the contractor is responsible to handle such matters," Balog said.

But residents should notify the city in an emergency, Balog said.

Tonight, neighbors will likely discuss the water pipe problems during a community meeting. City and Spiniello officials have been invited.

And Lucas offered some tongue-in-cheek advice.

"I hope they give these guys some protection," she said, "because the neighbors may go out and get them."

Pub Date: 6/05/96

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