BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | In May 2005, former Councilmember Margarita Lopez joined family members of Jodie Lane and the woman’s fiancé, Alex Wilbourne, at the northwest corner of First Ave. and E. 11th St. to unveil a new street co-naming sign, “Jodie Lane Place.”
“The name of Jodie Lane is going to be there forever,” Lopez proclaimed, “for Con Ed to remember what they did — that they didn’t care about the residents of New York City — and for it not to happen again.”
Lane, 30, who lived a block away on E. 12th St., died Jan. 16, 2004, near the spot when she was electrocuted on a slush-covered Con Ed junction box on the street while walking her two dogs.
The young therapist’s death horrified the city, and brought heightened awareness to the problem of stray voltage leaking from street fixtures. With pressure from Lopez, Con Ed agreed to do annual stray-voltage inspections for all street lampposts and other electrified street fixtures.
“I’ll always be able to come back to Jodie Lane Place,” Wilbourne said, gazing up at the new sign, at the sign’s unveiling. “The city killed her, quite literally. It’s a part of city history now. I just hope there are multiple Con Ed employees that walk past this place to get to [their headquarters building in] Union Square.”
“She’s become a part of the history of the city of New York,” Jodie’s father, Roger Lane, echoed back then. “That would tickle her. To Con Ed, it will be a reminder they have more work to do. As for the family — long after we’re gone, people will wonder, ‘Who was Jodie Lane and why did this happen?’ ”
However, at some point — it’s unclear exactly when — the Jodie Lane Place sign was removed from the lamppost. The Villager first noticed the sign was missing this past Wed., July 3. The normal-style street signs for E. 11th St. and First Ave. had also been removed from the lamppost, though new, highway-style, so-called cantilever signs for First Ave. and E. 11th St. had been installed hanging out over the intersection. Yet, there was no new sign of any sort anywhere in the intersection for Jodie Lane.
Scott Gastel, a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation, told The Villager he didn’t believe there was any connection between the installation of the new-style cantilever signs and the disappearance of the Jodie Lane Place co-naming sign and the other traditional-style street signs that had been attached to that pole. It looks like the signs were removed with a hacksaw — a thin, jagged strip of green from the removed signs can still be seen.
On Monday, in an e-mail, Gastel assured The Villager that a sign honoring Lane, plus the other removed signs, will be put back up on the pole.
“We inspected,” he said, “and all three street-name signs, ‘1 Ave,’ ‘E 11 St’ and ‘Jodie Lane Place,’ will be replaced. This does not appear to have any relationship to the overhead sign you mentioned.”