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Downed Power Line, Busted Water Main Worries Neighbor

By Benjamin Woodard | January 29, 2013 3:01pm

ROGERS PARK — A troubled property at Damen and Rogers avenues continues to cause problems for neighborhood residents.

A former ComEd electrician, Jim Ginderske, noticed a downed power line dangerously close to a metal fence and wet ground at the demolition site of the former Ho Tavern.

On Monday, he tested the ends of the black cables that had been covered with duct tape toward the rear of the lot.

The wires carried a lethal 240 volts, based on a readout from a device used to test levels of electricity.

"The problem is this can't be a one-off incident," said Ginderske, who said he had been an electrician for 20 years. He was also concerned with a broken water line at the site gushing water into a deep hole and across the nearby sidewalk.

 A tractor tears down the building at 7312-13 N. Damen Ave. after a judge ordered its demolition due to unsafe conditions.
A tractor tears down the building at 7312-13 N. Damen Ave. after a judge ordered its demolition due to unsafe conditions.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard

The building at 7312 N. Rogers Ave. had been demolished on a judge's orders after other neighbors complained about the crumbling eyesore and the city condemned it.

A small crew of workers demolished the building over the past two weeks, but the downed power line and busted water line continue to pose a safety risk to area residents, Ginderske said.

"When I was a kid, we played in places like this," he said.

One of the workers on the scene said he worked for SGI, or Sciortino Group, Inc., a Cicero based contractor.

He said he had called ComEd to disconnect electrical service to the building before demolition began, but no one ever came out. Facing a deadline, he said, they continued with the demolition.

A representative of SGI, who didn't reveal his name when reached by phone, said the wires were connected to "a next door lot" and were never connected to the demolished building.

Ginderske called police Monday about the power line. Rogers Park police district officers responded within 30 minutes and remained on scene into the afternoon waiting for ComEd, which later disconnected the wire.

Whenever major work is planned for a building, the contractor is required to call it in, said John Schoen, a spokesman for ComEd.

Schoen said there was no record of the contractor requesting the wire be disconnected.

He warned residents to never approach a downed wire.

According to records with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, Brian Keohane owns the property.

Keohane coule not be reached for comment.

Mike Land, staff assistant to Ald. Joe Moore (49th), said last month the property owner hadn't paid property taxes for four years and had been "unresponsive" to his office's requests to fix the building.

Ginderske said it worried him that other demolitions could be carried out in a similar, unsafe way, especially following Mayor Rahm Emanuel's effort to demolish vacant and dangerous buildings throughout the city.

The mayor's office announced late last year it had razed 200 buildings as part of the initiative.