Residents contest construction of park fenceBy NIKKI SMITH,
A few Petal residents living along South George Street turned out to a regular meeting of the city Board of Aldermen on Tuesday with concerns about a fence built by the city, which blocks their view of Hinton Park.
Robby Lewis, who is retired, said she enjoyed where her home is because of access to the park. She said she lived in Petal for a number of years before moving away to go to college, but returned to find a park had been built next door.
“It was wonderful,” she said. “Kids play there, soccer teams that practice. I can see them from my front porch.”
Lewis said later a metal fence was put in, which she had no problem with.
“I am a hermit when I am home,” she said. “I am retired.”
She said the sounds of the bands, powwow and kids playing were a comfort to her.
However, recently she walked outside to see posts going in the ground and fencing going up, blocking her view.
“I can no longer see the kids playing,” she said.
Lewis said four city employees spoke to her as they were working and told her that the fence was to provide security for the annual fall festival.
“It’s one night a year,” she said. “I’m just thinking you all could hire security for the one night.”
She proposed several questions to the mayor and aldermen, such as who came up with the idea for the fence, will there be more fencing added and was this budgeted for?
“I guess what I’m wondering is who authorized it?” she said.
Mayor Hal Marx addressed all of her questions.
“Actually, the festival coordinator had the idea for the fence, since we need security for the entertainment that comes and performs at the festival,” Marx said.
He said that 90 percent of the park was already fenced in anyway.
“That was the only part without wooden fence,” he said.
The other fencing was put in years ago between the apartment complex next to the park to prevent the setting up of booths and selling food and other items from the back yard of the complex without registering with the fall festival.
“We did this a few years ago,” he said. “The apartments used to have an open back yard, and then we realized people were setting up booths and selling things without officially being a part of the fall festival, so a security fence was placed there to stop that.”
“The fence blocked their view of the park, but they still have access to the park,” Marx said. “We already had 90 percent of the park fenced, so we didn’t think there would be any controversy over finishing that.”
Marx said the money for the fence came from the Parks and Recreation Department’s budget for the fall festival.
“We are not trying to inconvenience anyone,” he said. “We feel like the fence gives a better sense of security for children. We’re trying to make improvements to the park.”
Other residents spoke up to add that there was already a metal fence in place, which offered protection for children without blocking the view.
Marx said that these residents have not been denied access to the park, the city was just simply completing the fence surrounding it.