Jerome Ave. Becomes River After a Water Main Bursts

A major Bronx water supply line burst this morning just before 6:30 a.m., shutting down four blocks of Jerome Avenue between Tremont Avenue and the Cross Bronx Expressway, halting traffic and disrupting subway and bus service. The bursting of the 108-year-old water main also damaged two gas mains on Jerome Avenue.

The water flow was capped by 9:20 a.m., officials said.

In some places, the water level reached as high as a foot and a half, with much of the four-block stretch of Jerome Avenue covered in at least six inches of water. Traffic in the area was stopped, and police officers redirected cars and buses away from the flooded streets.

Joseph F. Bruno, commissioner of the city’s Office of Emergency Management, said the street would probably be closed for at least two days, and possibly longer. The police set up yellow caution tape to prevent people from going near the broken gas mains.

Chris Olret, a spokesman for Consolidated Edison, said that water had seeped into gas equipment in the area, forcing Con Ed to shut down service to as many as 500 customers. He said service would be restored “within several days.”

Mr. Bruno said, “The mix of the water and the gas was dangerous.”

By late morning, Mr. Bruno said the high water levels had mostly receded. “The sewers picked up very nicely, and it’s all dissipated,” he said, speaking around 11 a.m. at the corner of Jerome and Tremont Avenues.

Because the water main was a main supplier to the Bronx, not a local supplier, he said, the initial water pressure from the burst was powerful enough to cause the severe flooding.

Mr. Bruno said the Fire Department and Con Ed would help business owners whose basements were flooded to pump them.

As of 1 p.m., there was no service in both directions on the No. 4 subway line between the 167th Street and Bedfork Park Boulevard-Lehman College Stations. The service change was made at 7:48 a.m., a Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokeswoman said, adding that there was no timetable for when regular service would be restored. Riders should also expect delays and detours on the BX1, BX2, BX3, BX18, BX32, BX36, BX40 and BX42 bus routes, the transportation authority said.

A women’s shelter a block away from the burst water main was evacuated Wednesday morning, and business owners idled on the sidewalk as sirens blared intermittently. Many of the businesses on Jerome Avenue remained open, but without street access, employees were left wondering how to lure customers.

Porfirio Rosario, who works at a building supply warehouse near Tremont Avenue, said most nearby businesses, many of them car mechanic shops, relied on car traffic for customers.

Mr. Rosario said that customers could not get to his warehouse to pick up deliveries.

“All of this was flooded; now you can see the trickle,” Mr. Rosario said. “It’s just an awful chain of events.”

Nelson Rodriguez, who works at Excellent Auto Center on Jerome Avenue, said that he lived near where the water main broke and that by 7 a.m., the water level was up to the middle of the tires on his car. Now, he said, he has to check whether the inside of his car is damaged.

Another employee at the auto center swept water from in front of the shop with a broom. Usually by 11 a.m., the shop has had at least 10 customers, Mr. Rodriguez said. But it has had none. He said that more than 10 people could not get to work because of the flooding.

“If we don’t got no cars or nothing,” he said, “we don’t got no money.”

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The Economic Benefits of Lower Electric Rates

The first city in Delaware to significantly lower electricity rates will see an economic boom. America is seeing an industrial renaissance as companies move operations back from overseas to realize lower transportation costs, better quality, and to escape rising labor costs elsewhere. There are more manufacturing jobs in the U.S. now than before the recession began. Delaware is still losing jobs as companies bypass us and existing companies leave, partially because electricity rates are 50% higher than the national average.

The Delaware Electric Coop (DEC) is offering to acquire municipal electric companies to diversify its portfolio and expand volume to achieve lower contract prices for the electricity they buy. Coop prices average about 28% lower than those offered by the City of Dover and could save Dover homeowners and businesses $25 million a year. For a large user, like Dover Downs, the lower rates might save $750,000 a year and make the difference between profit and loss and offer the potential to avoid layoffs. Individual homeowners may save $400 to $500 a year. Those savings will be spent elsewhere and could boost the economy enough to add 175 jobs spread around city businesses. It is difficult to think of a better economic development strategy.

More importantly, Dover would become the first city with these more competitive electric rates and it would become a magnet for companies seeking to locate or expand in Delaware. Manufacturing companies like to locate near cities for ready access to utilities, manpower, and transportation. Dover has a lot to offer anyway and the addition of lower electric rates should reap rewards.

There are concerns about having to raise property taxes to cover lost general fund revenues from the electric company. Homeowners can receive tax deductions for property taxes but not for utilities. However, the sold electric company facilities are subject to property taxes or an excise tax and the large cash payment for the facilities can generate income. Combine this with tax revenue from economic growth and it is likely the city will see higher overall revenue and preclude the need for higher property taxes. It is natural for people to become concerned with change so the review of the DEC proposal should be reviewed by an independent consultant.

It is a tough recession that is not likely over yet. The electric rates savings will be welcomed by citizens and businesses alike. Who doesn’t want more money in their pocket right now?

David T. Stevenson
Director, Center for Energy Competitiveness

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Chapel Designs Are Selected to Pop Up for Gay Weddings

Some will kiss under a kiss. Some will tie the knot — literally.

The two winning designs for pop-up wedding chapels that will be built at the Merchants’ Gate entrance to Central Park near Columbus Circle were announced on Monday after a 10-day competition.

One chapel, created by the New York-based firm Z-A Studio and called “Kiss,” is made of honeycomb cardboard and resembles an open helix. The other, designed by the firm ICRAVE, also based in New York, is constructed from rainbow ribbons that couples will be able to tie in a knot during their wedding ceremonies and take with them after the event.

On Saturday, 24 same-sex couples will be married at the event, called Pop Up Chapel. The winning designs were selected from 56 entries by a panel of eight judges. More than half of the entries were from New York-based architects.

Rules for the contest stipulated that chapels had to be constructed in two hours the morning of the competition and must be no larger than 8 feet by 8 feet. Winners will receive $3,000 that will go toward their designs, though organizers are still looking for a sponsor to offset the cost.

The judges said that “Kiss” encapsulated the romantic sentiment of a wedding. “The Kiss is this kind of fluid motion that is frozen in time,” said Marc Kushner, a founder of Architizer, a social-networking site for architects that collaborated with the Knot, a wedding planning site, to organize the event.

Mr. Kushner said the piece was especially elegant because it was constructed of two separate cardboard pieces that could not stand on their own, like individuals in a married couple. Guy Zucker, Z-A Studio’s principal architect, said his design was derived from the spiraling structure of DNA.

The other chapel, Kushner said, complements the Kiss’s stability because the ribbons that make up the structure will constantly be in motion.

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Head of Child Welfare Agency Resigns

John B. Mattingly, the commissioner of the city’s Administration for Children’s Services since 2004, has resigned, the mayor’s office announced Tuesday afternoon.

Mr. Mattingly told Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg that he would be returning to Baltimore to work for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, where he had directed the foundation’s child welfare policy initiatives.

The agency recently came under fire following the death of Marchella Pierce, a 4-year-old girl who was found dead in September 2010.

The Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, charged Damon Adams, the caseworker responsible for Marchella, and his supervisor, Chereece Bell, with criminally negligent homicide. Mr. Hynes said that Mr. Adams had not made required visits to the family and lied about it, and that Ms. Bell had failed to supervise him.

Mr. Hynes also convened a grand jury to explore what he called “evidence of alleged systemic failures.” The grand jury has not yet released the results of the investigation.

Mr. Bloomberg praised Mr. Mattingly’s leadership during his tenure as commissioner. “As I’ve said countless times over the last seven years, New York City has been extraordinarily lucky to have a nationally-renowned expert, John Mattingly, ably and tirelessly leading our Administration for Children’s Services,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement. “Few people have worked harder and more effectively in such difficult circumstances than he has.”

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