A steady cloud of mysterious steam seeping out of the sidewalk near a Pelham Parkway housing project has locals steaming.
The steam has been leaking out of a patch of the sidewalk on Bronxwood Avenue near the Pelham Parkway Houses and Christopher Columbus High School for weeks now —and complaining community members have seen enough.
Senator Jeff Klein’s district office has been flooded with complaints from nearby residents asking: What’s that smell? And where exactly is it coming from?
“Someone needs to go down there and check that stuff out,” said John Hill, who lives in the Pelham Parkway Houses.
Hill described the smell as “peculiar.” Other people who have passed by the patch between Astor and Waring Avenues called the cloud’s scent “strange” and “kind of like gas.” Some can’t smell it at all, but are still concerned by its steady stream up from the ground.
“It’s been very noticeable for a while now,” said Wanda Haynes, who walks down the avenue regularly and said she can’t smell the cloud, but is still puzzled by its sudden appearance.
A spokesperson for the New York City Housing Authority, which has managed the Pelham Parkway Houses since its construction in 1950, said that the steam stems from “apparent breaks” in the underground piping system that connects the two sections of the housing project. The piping system provides heat to the over 2,500 people that live in the Houses.
In the short term, NYCHA plans to close off the leaking steam mains —a process that may get delayed because of snowstorms. The agency promised that it would find another way to heat the Houses during repairs, though there will be a brief disruption of heat and hot water service.
Hill, the Pelham Parkway Houses resident, said he wasn’t surprised that NYCHA was having piping issues. The water hasn’t been truly hot in his apartment since he moved in a year ago, he said.
“I feel like I haven’t taken a decent shower or bath once,” he said.
In the meantime, Sen. Klein vowed to keep watch.
“To ensure the safety of pedestrians, students and local residents, NYCHA must act quickly,” he said. “I’m pleased that at our request, NYCHA has developed a plan to fix the steam pipe in the coming days. My office will continue to monitor this project until the issue is resolved.”