BY MAGGIE BEAMGUARD
Issues with the Seven Lakes West gates this fall, particularly the back gate, have sent residents to social media to share pictures of open or broken gate arms and to vent frustrations and concerns regarding community safety. Anecdotal evidence would indicate increasing problems with the function of the gates.
But a fix is in the works. The community’s board of directors has announced that it had “accepted a proposal from ITech Security Protection Solutions to install new gates at our back entrance.”
“The existing gates are well past their designed useful life and the gate’s operation has been further compounded by vehicles damaging the gates,” the board said in an email update to residents. “The new gates include gate arm lighting that will indicate when to proceed through the gate as well as a more advanced vehicle detection system.
“The gates’ current camera system will work with the new gate system to identify vehicles tailgating and damaging our controlled entry system for action by our property manager.
“Damage to our gates as well as to any of our community’s buildings and facilities will not be tolerated, and violators will be assessed fines as well as the costs of repairs. We will be reporting the incidents to the local authorities, if necessary.
Residents had been submitting repair requests to board officials and community managers for several weeks.
“We understand, based on our incident reports, that there is an issue,” said Jack Roberts, SLLA Board President.
Roberts attributes the current problems to multiple causes.
“First of all we have a very old system,” he said, “and the gates are well past their prime. As you know, the community is growing and there’s a lot more use of the gates, both the front back. So these gates do wear out, and we’re keeping them afloat as best we can.”
Vehicular damage is a secondary cause of problems they are seeing.
In addition, the older tags that cameras read to raise the gates can become out of sync.
“The gate speed is another problem of being old,” said Roberts. “It may not close as quickly when a car passes through it, so you would maybe have somebody behind thinking that they could go through and the gate comes down.”
The arm has a breakaway feature so that there is limited damage if that happens, but then the gate becomes inoperable.
The unpredictability of the gate issues has been a challenge. But they are setting up a network of volunteers trained to fix the gate who can be dispatched quickly to fix any issues that occur especially over weekends and when a professional is not available in a timely manner.
If tending to immediate issues as they occur is an unofficial phase I, then getting the gate systems running consistently without incident is phase II.
The Board is looking at new gate systems right now. Roberts compares new gate technology to buying a new phone.
“If you got an iPhone One it’s going to perform differently from an iPhone 13,” he said. According to the consultants the board is working with, Roberts says the current technology is two to three years past its prime.
A number of committees are collaborating with the board and the property management company, H.R.W., including the Safety and Security, IT and Infrastructure Committees. Each committee brings a different area of expertise.
Roberts indicated there is a broader initiative to provide better security within the Seven Lakes Gates themselves. They are actively identifying risks, evaluating risks and planning for ways to eliminate risks.
The official statement from the board on Nov. 6 elaborated: “… a Steering Committee has been formed to provide an extensive evaluation and recommendations for our community’s overall and long-term security that would include perimeter fencing, access control, cameras and lighting throughout our community’s buildings, parking areas and amenities.”
By practicing gate etiquette, residents can minimize future problems. “Let the gate drop when somebody goes through it, and don’t proceed until that gate comes back up. And don’t tailgate,” said Roberts.
If you feel like someone is intentionally tailgating to sneak in the gate, Roberts advises, “First of all be safe. And second of all, the cameras will get them.” If you are able to get a vehicle description and a license tag number, you can share that information with the Community Manager.
According to Roberts, most of the tailgating is actually done by residents.
If you encounter a broken gate or cause a gate to break, contact the Community Manager through the TownSq app.
The cameras at the gates are functioning and even provided critical evidence used by the Moore County Sheriff’s Department in apprehending two people responsible for a series of break ins and robberies this fall.
The gates, and the safety of the community, Roberts said, are the board’s number one priority.
Contact Maggie Beamguard at firstname.lastname@example.org.