By Tim Hadac
Southwest Chicago Post
Midway area homeowners organizing themselves to fight the
Chicago Department of Aviation had no plans to expand their battle, but that is what happened at a public meeting Monday night.
Angry residents called out Mayor Rahm Emanuel, something they have not done before, at least publicly.
“We need Mayor Emanuel to let us know what he is personally doing to answer our concerns…the same concerns that our aldermen have relayed to Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans on several occasions,” said Anne Prevenas, a founding member of the newly formed Midway Defective Window Recipients non-profit group. “He has been silent. We want that to end.”
She made her remarks at MDWR’s first public event, a strategy meeting held in the gymnasium at West Lawn Park. About 100 Southwest Side men and women attended—more than anticipated, as Park District workers scrambled to set up extra rows of folding chairs to accommodate the people lined up at the registration table.
Echoing Prevenas’ view was Chrysler Village homeowner Pam Zidarich, who said that the Chicago Department of Aviation “has put us through hell with their delays and their lies.
A request for comment from the Mayor’s Office was not answered earlier this week.
The defective windows and doors have been provided to homeowners near Midway and O’Hare in recent years through the Chicago Department of Aviation’s Residential Sound Insulation Program, an initiative designed to improve the quality of life for people living near the airports by reducing jet-engine noise in their homes.
While the large majority of the more than 10,000 RSIP homeowners near Midway have not voiced complaints, a small minority—about 250 households--report that their windows and doors are emitting foul-smelling fumes. Homeowners, some of whom have been diagnosed with cancer in recent years, are highly concerned that the fumes may be toxic—causing or at least exacerbating their serious illness, and possibly having long-term, negative effects on the health of their children.
It appears that years of exposure to heat and sunlight may be breaking down the materials used in the manufacture of the windows and frames. One of those materials is polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a known carcinogen banned in some countries outside the U.S.
In attendance Monday night were 13th Ward Ald. Marty
|Alderman Zalewski (left) and Alderman Quinn.|
Not in attendance Monday night but also praised by homeowners for their efforts were U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd), Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-22nd), 14th Ward Ald. and City Council Committee on Finance Chairman Edward M. Burke, and 15th Ward Ald. Raymond Lopez.
Only a handful of children were present at Monday’s meeting, but several homeowners, including mothers with infants and toddlers at home, expressed concern and fear that the RSIP fumes in their homes could be damaging the brain and motor-skill development of their sons and daughters.
Prevenas called up her nephews, Nathan, 13, and Noah, 10, as an example of what she said is at stake. The boys have lived in a Chrysler Village home since 2005, with RSIP windows installed in 2006. The windows have turned out to be defective and are emitting fumes.
She told the audience that she wants to know why the boys “are constantly plagued with respiratory symptoms, why they have to take massive amounts of prescription medications, why they’re sick all the time, why they’re at the doctor’s office all the time, and why they’re experiencing progressively worsening symptoms as they get older.
“These boys deserve an answer,” she continued, her voice cracking as she looked at the boys, “and we’re going to get it for you guys.”
Zidarich likened the RSIP situation to environmental scandals in suburban Crestwood, as well as Flint, Mich., where the negligence and dishonesty of elected and appointed officials were shown to have damaged the health of the people they were entrusted to serve.
She encouraged the homeowners at the meeting to be
patient and persistent in a fight she said will drag on into 2018. MDWR’s next step is to hire an independent, accredited environmental firm to conduct in-home air quality tests next year.
CDA’s contractor is doing a small sample of indoor air right now, but MDWR homeowners say they are skeptical that those government-funded tests will provide an accurate picture of what is actually in the fumes emitted.
MDWR plans to stay in touch and update local homeowners via email and Facebook, as well as through announcements to the Southwest Chicago Post, Southwest News-Herald and other news organizations.
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