Cleveland City Hall alarmed by hidden hazards on streets

10:32 AM, May 18, 2011   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Clevelander Wanda DeSantis never knew about contact voltage until one day last September when she walked her dog in the Cleveland Metroparks.

"It was a piercing yelp. Piercing, and he kinda went limp," DeSantis told the Investigator Tom Meyer.

She said her Yorkie was walking near a lightpole at the Metroparks Bedford Reservation when she believes he was shocked.

"I was very shook up and I reported it to the (Metroparks) ranger, but he didn't seem to care," DeSantis said.  She says one of her dog's paws has never been right since the jolt.

DeSantis came forward when she saw a Channel 3 News investigation that found streetlights and sidewalks energized with as much as 454 volts.

Cleveland Councilman Mike Polensek, who serves on city council's public utilities committee, called the Channel 3 News report a public service that needs to be addressed.

He said he will raise the issue formally at the next meeting of the committee. 

"There's nothing more important than the health and safety of the public," Polensek said.

Cleveland Public Power said it is now considering a formal monitoring program that would look specifically for contact voltage on a regular basis.

Currently, the city only looks for this problem and others during routine maintenance. 

"The real question for us would be, 'Is it more expensive for us to do it or should we outsource it?'" CPP commissioner Ivan Henderson said.

James Ferguson, the head of CPP's bureau of streets, says he is looking at all types of technologies that they might utilize to detect this hidden hazard.

"I was alarmed," Ferguson said, in response to the Channel 3 News investigation.


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