It’s bad enough that Chris Jaszczak depends on a crudely rigged fire hydrant to provide water to his downtown coffee shop and black box theater.
Jaszczak wasn’t prepared to learn this weekend that the city of Detroit won’t be repairing the water line behind his shop, 1515 Broadway, just a day after Detroit Corporation Counsel Butch Hollowell publicly pledged the city would.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Jaszczak said, nearly in tears.
Jaszczak, who has owned 1515 Broadway for more than 25 years, was hopeful the city would soon repair the line after relying on the fire hydrant for three months. The city insisted it wouldn’t send workers to fix the water line because of the dangers of falling bricks from the chronically dangerous Wurlitzer high-rise next door.
On the day we published a story about Jaszczak relying on the hydrant, the city issued a press release saying the water line would be repaired after the Wurlitzer owners – Wayne County Circuit Judge Daphne Mean Curtis and her attorney husband Paul Curtis – removed the bricks within an expected two-week timeframe.
“Once the remediation work is completed and the site is safe, the Department of Water & Sewerage will make the necessary water main repairs and restore proper service to the businesses on Broadway,” Hollowell said.
But as I was interviewing Jaszczak the next evening, we spotted a city worker installing a meter on the fire hydrant. Jaszczak was informed that the city was abandoning the broken water line and would eventually build a new one, so the coffee shop and theater will be forced to depend on water from the fire hydrant this winter.
Jaszczak worries that the narrow hoses connecting the fire hydrant to his shop will freeze.
In the meantime, the Wurlitzer owners have yet to remove a single dangling brick. The wall is buckling and has already torn a hole in Jaszczak’s roof, dangerously close to where his son was sleeping.
Mayor Mike Duggan’s spokesman, John Roach, said DWSD wasn’t sure where or when the new line will be built. Roach hasn’t responded yet to questions about why the city’s attorney said the line would be repaired if it wasn’t.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.