On the east side of Mount Hope Cemetery, where West 119th Street meets the railroad tracks, there is a red-brick house whose interior is so pristine it looks as if no one has lived there for weeks. Because no one has lived there for weeks.
Vanessa Macias, 36, bought the house three years ago when she fell in love with the new floors, large basement and large backyard. But in December, a water main belonging to the village of Robbins burst under the tracks at the foot of Merrionette Park, flooding the cemetery and Macias’ backyard.
The timeline for when this water main will be fixed is unclear, as Robbins Mayor Darren Bryant said the south suburb cannot afford to fix it and the leak is outside Chicago city limits.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Department of Water Management placed a water pump 6 feet from Macias’ lawn, along with a hose that carries water from the gap to the sidewalk manhole, as a flood-prevention measure. While it’s not a long-term solution, it’s an annoying short-term fix that eliminates the loud noise that prevents Macias and his partner Manuel Gomez, 40, from staying in their home for long periods of time.
“We’re staying at my dad’s house. He has a building in Brighton Park,” said Gomez, who runs a chain of auto repair shops on the South Side. “The noise here is too loud for us to sleep.”
Sawyer Elementary School teachers Gomez and Macias normally look forward to watching basketball and making dinner when they get home from work. But 10 feet outside their walls is a machine that constantly emits a low, monotonous roaring sound that infiltrates their bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens. He even drowned out the speakers broadcasting the fourth quarter of the Brooklyn Nets-Golden State Warriors game.
“When I realized our yard was completely flooded and the bottom of our fence was rotting, I called (311) again and then called the city council office,” Macias said. It took the city four days of searching until Jan. 3, when contractors in Robbins and Cook County came to check out.
“They were all trying to figure out who would take care of what,” he said.
Bryant last week directed the Daily Southtown to the state, Cook County and the city of Chicago in response to when the leak would be fixed, saying: The village cannot afford The $250,000 price tag comes without government funds.
A spokesman for the Chicago Department of Water Management said Robbins owns the water main and repairs are the village’s responsibility, but the department pumps water to prevent flooding in Chicago basements.
Natalia Derevyanny, communications manager for the Cook County Executive’s Office, said the county hired a contractor to diagnose and repair leaks in the water main, although the responsibility lies with the village.
“Cook County has invested significant resources to assist them,” Derevyanny said.
The county is still working on a timeline, but in the meantime, the pump and its noise continue to cause harm to residents.
According to a decibel reader on an iPhone app, about 105 decibels (dB) are recorded right next to the pump, which sounds like the sound a jackhammer makes.
According to the website for the Decibel Meter Pro app, the sound in Marcias and Gomez’s bedroom ranges from a high 60 to a low 70 dB, which “can cause hearing damage or lead to hearing loss.”
Sound isn’t the only problem for residents living near 2600 W 119th Street. Marcias said his water pressure has dropped, there is a rotten smell in his basement, and he expects the front yard and side fence will need to be replaced due to base rot.
“I know this is going to cost an arm and a leg,” he said. “The fence is bad.”
“This is garbage,” Gomez said.
Chicago police officer David Cherry and his girlfriend, Daniela Hall, a rental car company manager, live three doors down from the pump, so it’s quieter and less of an impact on their lives.
“I’m always aware of that,” Cherry, 31, said. “You’re getting used to it.”
They didn’t feel the need to move. But Cherry and Hall, 30, agree that the city government’s failure to keep them informed about what’s happening just yards from their homes adds to their stress.
In fact, Hall said he first learned why the pump was on the corner when he read the Jan. 31 story in the Daily Southtown.
“I don’t appreciate the lack of transparency. “When there’s something that could be a potential problem, a potential noise complaint, I want to know about it,” Cherry said. “It seems a little frustrating not knowing how long I can take this.”