Published: Jul 19, 2008 06:03 PM
Modified: Jul 19, 2008 06:04 PM
CARRBORO — A new barbed-wire fence at Estes Park Apartments on Estes Drive Extension has attracted the concern of the Carrboro mayor, who has asked the manager to consider opening it during the day.
Management installed the fence about two weeks ago in response to concerns about children playing around the railroad tracks behind the apartments, said Shannon Brummett, a regional property manager with General Services Corp. with an office in Durham.
It now provides a barrier between the apartments and the railroad.
But some say the fence now blocks a pedestrian path and is ugly. “The barbed wire in particular seems kind of hostile,” Mayor Mark Chilton said in an interview. “This is not a prison camp or anything.”
The fence also divides the 300-unit Estes Park community from the Village West development.
In 2006, the average Village West condominium sold for $154,754, according to the real estate firm Better Carolina Homes.
Estes Park apartments rent for $457 to $614 a month, according to its Web site.
Village West resident James Coley, 50, who is concerned about how the fence cuts off a pedestrian and bicycle path, described the fence as demeaning.
“Can anyone really believe this is not partly about race and class?” he wrote in an e-mail to Chilton.
Before the fence was installed, many people would walk from Village West through Estes Park to Pleasant Street and into downtown Carrboro, Chilton said in an e-mail to Brummett.
Chilton has asked Brummett to unlock a gate in the fence during the day to provide access to the path, even though he acknowledged that those using it don’t have any legal right to walk across private property.
Brummett wouldn’t say Wednesday whether he would open the fence’s gate during the day.
He said he was waiting until he could talk to Chilton about it.
The fence was also designed to protect residents from “security issues” that have migrated off the railroad tracks, Brummett said.
Carrboro Police Capt. J.G. Booker said homeless people in the past have pitched tents in the woods by Estes Park, near the tracks.
Booker also said that people who use the railroad tracks to “get from point A to point B” may choose to cut through Estes Park, which is a private property.
Brummett said homeless people have entered or broken in to vacant Estes Park apartments.
Sometimes, managers will surprise them and they will leave; sometimes they will call the police, he said.
Estes Park Apartments, at 306 N. Estes Drive, is not the only one of General Services’ properties in the area that has had a barbed wire fence installed, he said.
Carolina Apartments in Carrboro, also managed by General Services, has a similar fence, he said.
Estes Park residents interviewed said they support the fence.
“It’s for the safety,” said Hnin Mar, 18.
She said lately it’s been dangerous to walk around at night and the fence could keep intruders out.
Maung Bo, 33, from Chapel Hill, visits friends at the apartment complex often, and said it can become “very dangerous” when children go near the railroad.