I strongly support gated communities. I believe it sends two messages: one to the criminals that crime is not tolerated in our gated community and the other to the homeowners, and prospective homeowners, that we are proud of our community and it is a privilege to live here. While I don't think gates will stop crime altogether, I believe it makes it harder for a criminal to escape the area if there are gates that he must pass through, especially if those gates have guards. The only thing people are opposed to a gated community is access for emergency vehicles. I would suggest that the entrances that are to be left open are the closest to the fire station and EMS stations. How much delay time are they talking about if the access is only about one-half mile away?
I live on Coquina Key and am very much in favor of having gates on the entryway to Coquina Key. The emergency access is not a problem for Coquina Key, as there are only two bridges anyway that provide access to the island.
Nancy Frye, St. Petersburg
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In response to your article in Neighborhood Times, Feb. 19-22, I would like to mention a few ideas for consideration.
As an electronic gate operator installer for over 20 years, I've seen a lot of areas _ not only St. Petersburg, but from Jacksonville to Miami _ with residents wanting security gates.
Most of all, look at the concept of security gates. The bottom line is, if you're not supposed to be there, stop.
The decision on which streets should be blocked and where to locate entrances should be determined by the association; however, as to the concern about access for emergency vehicles, you have several options to consider:
1. Install gates with "key switch" access for emergency vehicles only.
2. Install gates with "siren alert systems," in which the gates are opened automatically when the operator picks up the sound of the siren.
3. A push-button station at the guard house that can be opened upon demand.
The residents could maintain free exit at all locations, if desired, by allowing the gates to open automatically for exit lanes only, and entrance at guard houses.
As an installer of gates and operators, let me assure residents that this is not a racial issue; it is only protecting your investment. I have never seen property values drop from installing security gates, but I know that they increase. I hope these ideas will help in considering the positive and negative aspects of gated communities.