If you think politics are a polarizing topic in The Villages, then don’t dare broach the subject of gates.
The District Office reported that 130 gate strikes occurred in January in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown, spurring comments on the expense of maintaining the entrance gates.
“The gates in The Villages serve little purpose and are more of a nuisance than a benefit. They do not keep out non-Villagers. The ‘manned’ gates are a joke, as all cars are just waved through the gate. The security cameras do serve a function and should be retained. The Villages wastes residents’ money with the upkeep of the gates, the gate houses, and the silly little gate access cards,” said Paula Jauch of the Village of Harmeswood of Belle Aire.
Preston Sappington of the Village of Hillsborough argues the gates in The Villages serve the Developer far more than they serve the residents.
“They are used as a selling point to people that don’t know better. They are on a public road and hinder traffic flow.
Do the math. Twenty-two manned gates, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year equals $1.5 million per year so the Developer can sell more homes,” Sappington said.
He points out his formula does not include the cost of electricity for the gates and shacks.
“How about air conditioning/heat for each shack, plus ongoing maintenance for all arms?” he asked
He suggested speed bumps that don’t need electricity or mechanical devices or human intervention.
Villager Janet McKean said the gates don’t keep anyone out.
“Anyone can enter by pushing the red button — ridiculous! I would never damage one intentionally, and I do not drive distracted; but, there are times when we need to get through in a hurry, and there are also times when the gate attendant makes a mistake and lets someone through the visitor’s gate and almost causes an accident,” she said.
Statistics show that the majority of gate arms are knocked down by distracted drivers, so Christine Raeder says, don’t blame the gates.
“People need to be responsible. If they are that distracted they don’t belong driving. We have almost been run over several times by distracted drivers as we walk. This is in broad daylight because they don’t believe we have a right to be on the golf cart path even though there is no sidewalk. Or because they just aren’t paying attention. We have literally had to jump out of the way. I can’t imagine what it’ll be like if you eliminate the gates and they go speeding through these areas. We bought a home in a gated community, leave it that way,” she said.
Holly and Jim Macfadden moved more than a year ago to The Villages and would like to see a more detailed breakdown of statistics involving gate strikes.
“This is a lot of damages in one month. It doesn’t say who damaged them: the percent of the residents or outsiders or snowbirds,” said Holly Macfadden, who lives in the Village of Largo.
Villager Frank Walter said residents in golf carts wouldn’t stand a chance without the protection of the gates.
“Without the gates I believe the percentage of car/golf cart accidents would increase dramatically. The charges that must be enforced against any individual who hits a gate arm and then leaves without reporting to authorities must be hit and run. Stories as to why the offender failed to lawfully report the ‘accident’ must be hilarious,” he said.