EDGEWATER — Crews began pumping long-standing water from the lower levels of the Edgewater Medical Center parking garage, unleashing a "putrid" and "fetid" smell in the neighborhood, according to residents.
Last month, the garage was sold to a venture of MCZ Development, Sedgwick Acquisitions, LLC, which intends to demolish the structure and build single-family homes there. In June, MCZ Development also bid $7.5 million to buy the former hospital at the site, 5700 N. Ashland Ave.
Neighbors had said they were concerned about what would happen to the water in the basement of the garage, which connects to portions of the hospital.
And now neighbors aren't happy about what they're smelling as hoses pump water from the garage and into the sewer in the 1600 block of West Edgewater Avenue.
"The water's been sitting for years in the basement," said Joe Drantz, who lives across the street from the garage and is a member of the West Edgewater Area Residents association.
He said the water being pumped from the building contained "the foulest smelling sewer gas."
"Putrid comes to mind; fetid," he said, when asked to describe the scent.
Laurie Block, an aide to Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th), said Friday afternoon that the pumping of the water had been planned by the new owners prior to demolition of the garage.
"The neighborhood was aware they would be pumping water out," she said.
Block also said the city's Department of Water Management and representatives with the alderman's office and MCZ Development inspected the sewers surrounding the garage to ensure it could handle the "several feet of water" from under the structure.
"They determined that the sewers were open and they could take the water adequately to move forward," she said.
Resident Craig Cernek, president of Friends of West Edgewater Park, likened the water's scent to a combination of rotten eggs and iron and chlorine.
A worker on the scene, however, said residents have nothing to worry about.
"If it was something, we'd be the first to address it," said worker Juan Gonzales.
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