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City, neighbors debate fence on path
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The bridge sits in a nearby yard. - photo by Photo by Andrea Washington

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Homeowner Michael Smiley outlines where a proposed fence would be constructed at the end of Bradwell Street Extension.
Residents concerned about the proposed construction of commercial, barbed-wire fences at the ends of Bradwell Street Extension and Kings Road will have an opportunity to comment on the matter during a meeting with Hinesville city officials next week.
Homeowners and city officials are scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. July 31 at Hinesville City Hall to resolve the issue that continues to divide residents of the neighborhood.
The plan by a group of residents to block commonly used walkways by erecting fences at the ends of Bradwell Street Extension and Kings Road sparked outrage last week after an employee of Hinesville's public works department removed bridges from the end of both streets.
The structures, one built by the father and son of school board member and Bradwell Street Extension homeowner, Becky Carter, have been a neighborhood mainstay since the early 1990s.
Residents, especially schoolchildren, have used them to cross over large drainage ditches at the ends of both roads to get to and from Joseph Martin Elementary School and Snelson-Golden Middle School or as shortcuts to other sections of the neighborhoods.
“That’s one of the reasons I moved out here,” Bradwell Street Extension homeowner Stephanie Ducre said, “because the schools are right there and my daughter can walk a safe trip to school.”
But residents on Kings Road say the crossings have become an inconvenience for homeowners and a safety hazard for children using them.
“All of us on this street down toward the end, at times when they’re letting school out or letting school in, have trouble getting in and out of our drives because of parents from other neighborhoods dropping their kids off at the bridge,” Helen Stripling said. “Then there’s the speeding.”
In addition, Stripling’s son-in-law, Michael Smiley, said thefts and other disturbances in the neighborhood, including an attempt by someone to use a screwdriver to crank a lawn mower in his backyard, have increased because of non-residents using the shortcuts.
According to Hinesville Police Chief George Stagmeier, the Bradwell Street Extension / Kings Road area is a relatively quiet neighborhood. He said other than a few calls for common, minor issues in housing areas, there have been no major crimes reported by residents.
“I would not consider that area to be a high crime area,” the chief said. “We really don’t have a lot of problems out there.”
Stripling and other Kings Road homeowners met to discuss ways to ease their concerns and decided to take down the bridges and build fences at the end of both roads.
The residents took the plan to their Hinesville City Council representative, Steve Troha, who agreed to assist the homeowners with their wishes.
The councilman presented the concerns to Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards. Following the pair’s discussion, Edwards ordered the city’s public works department to remove the bridges.
“It was presented to me that the neighborhood was pretty much in support of removing these things,” he said.
But Bradwell Street Extension homeowner Connie Klein said Edwards, Troha and Kings Road residents did not receive a real consensus because they failed to speak with a larger pool of homeowners.
“They didn’t get with all the neighbors before taking the bridges out,” said Klein, who is against having fences built.
Klein is a teacher at Joseph Martin and said she uses the path on her street regularly to get to and from work during the school year.
She plans to attend the upcoming meeting, but said, “I think they’ve pretty much done their underhanded deal and it’s pretty much done, unless enough people come out against it.”
“It was not our intent, it was not the city’s intent to do anything underhandedly. We were responding to what we thought was a consensus of the neighborhood,” Edwards said.
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