CHICAGO (CBS) — Dozens of 311 complaints months ago did not fix the exposed wires on light poles in the South Side neighborhood of West Chesterfield.
In fact, the city did not fix the light poles until Thursday, after a CBS 2 story on the potentially dangerous problem for kids and dogs.
Meanwhile, CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas discovered there are still exposed wires all over the city.
There was progress on Thursday, as a Chicago Department of Transportation crew screwed in light pole doors at 93rd Street and Michigan Avenue.
“And I can now remove this tape from this pole,” said Michael LaFargue of the West Chesterfield Community Association.
LaFargue even marked the poles with pieces of red tape months ago, so the city could tell which covers were missing.
A CBS 2 report on Tuesday revealed more than 30 missing wire covers in the neighborhood – two of them right outside Gillespie Elementary School, 9301 S. State St.
The report also revealed 24 open 311 requests for the problems – all from five months ago.
“You would think that the city and our public officials would react a little bit faster,” LaFargue said.
It is nothing to take lightly. In 2012, a Louisiana 3-year-old burned his hands after grabbing an exposed wire.
“And he just was hollering, ‘Daddy it hurts! It hurts!’” the boy’s father, Willie McGee, said at the time.
“This is a real safety issue,” LaFargue said.
And it’s not just in LaFargue’s neighborhood. We spotted missing covers at 35th Street and Wentworth Avenue – a corner that kids walk past all summer as they head to Guaranteed Rate Field to catch White Sox games.
Meanwhile, Linda Hudson showed us two poles with exposed wires at the park of Avalon Park on 83rd Street.
“We’re very concerned about this,” Hudson said.
Hudson said she told the Chicago Park District that exposed wires were a problem there two years ago. It was part of a formal report she presented back in 2017 when she was Park Advisory Council president.
“It’s very dangerous,” she said. “Our kids are in the parks playing. People are walking their dogs.”
One exposed light pole in the park is about 100 yards from a playground and a bike path. Another is just a foul ball away from a baseball field.
The city would not agree to an interview with us on this subject – not in person, nor over the phone.
A representative said they address missing panels as quickly as they can.
A Park District representative said they don’t have any recent reports of open pole covers for repair but the covers in the park will be inspected and repaired.