By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A potentially dangerous situation that had been festering for months on a Bensonhurst street was finally resolved, thanks to, of all things, a block party.
Councilman Vincent Gentile was visiting with residents of a block 79th Street between 17th and 18th Aves for their annual block party on a recent Saturday when he noticed what appeared to be live electrical wires running from a manhole in the street, along the sidewalk, and into a nearby apartment building.
People were stepping over black wires as they walked along the sidewalk munching on barbequed hamburgers during the festive block party.
Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) said he was shocked when residents told him the wires had been there since the beginning of the year, nearly eight months. “This had created a dangerous situation,” a spokesman for Gentile said.
It seems that Con Edison had placed the wires there in January to provide electricity to residents in an apartment building who had been hit with a power outage. But what was supposed to be a temporary fix stayed that way for several months, according to residents, who said the wires remained in place all through the winter and spring and into the summer.
“The manhole was open. The wires were out. It wasn’t a good situation,” one resident, Angela Sofikitif, told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on Aug. 14.
Sofikitif said she was troubled by the fact that the wires, which carry large amounts of electricity, were exposed. “Kids were walking on the wires. Cars were parking on the wires. You have a lot of elderly people on our block and they had to walk over the wires when they were walking down the block,” she said.
Residents called 311 and reported the situation, according to Sofikitif. “But no one ever came out to look at it,” she said.
Neighbors decided to go ahead with their block party in late July in spite of the wires. “At the block party, I approached Mr. Gentile and I asked him, ‘Can you do something about this?’ That same day, he got Con Ed to come down,” Sofikitif said.
“It is unfortunate that this situation went seven months without resolution. When I was on the block, visiting a block party, I saw the situation and immediately called Con Ed to get them out there to resolve the issue,” Gentile said.
Within hours, a Con Ed crew came to the block and removed the wires. “Mr. Gentile stayed until the job was done,” Sofikitif said.