10-27-2017-10-37-44-AM-7728631

Midway homeowners call out Rahm

Fed up with Aviation Department, want mayor to step in

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 concernsÉthe 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 Windows

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 attendedÑmore 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 told the Southwest News-Herald that the Chicago Department of

Aviation “has put us through hell with their delays and their lies.

“If Rahm Emanuel found out that he had these defective and

possibly toxic windows in his houseÑand if a member of his family was diagnosed

with cancer or a respiratory condition–you can be sure that the Department of

Aviation would respond in the blink of an eye to put things right quickly and

completely,” she continued. “That’s the kind of response we want and deserve,

but it’s been almost exactly the opposite from the bureaucrats at the

Department of AviationÑand those people report to Rahm.”

A Southwest News-Herald request for comment from the Mayor’s

Office was not answered earlier this week.

Background

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.

Homeowner concern over RSIP windows and doors was first

reported exclusively by the Southwest News-Herald in early June, with a number

of front-page follow-ups as the story developed over the summer. Prevenas said

she first learned of the issue from a story in the Southwest News-Herald.

While the large majority of RSIP homeowners have not voiced

complaints, a small minorityÑabout 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 toxicÑcausing 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.

Also Monday

In attendance Monday night were 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn

and 23rd Ward Ald. Michael R. Zalewski, both of whom have publicly criticized

the Department of Aviation and pressured it to take steps to resolve the

concerns to the satisfaction of local homeowners. They were applauded by

homeowners for their efforts and expressions of support.

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 voiced

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

News-Herald and other news organizations.

(Editor’s Note:

More news coverage and photos in the print edition of the Southwest

News-Herald, available on local newsstands. Or better yet, call 708-496-0265

during weekday business hours and order convenient home delivery for about 50

cents a week.)

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