By Ricky Jordan
Director of Public Safety
The temporary closure of Wilderness Parkway starting on Monday, Feb. 6, will inconvenience many Property Owners, especially those who normally use the Main Gate. As much as I wish I could say otherwise, the closure is expected to take approximately six weeks.
With the Main Gate closed to everyone other than those traveling the Blackwell Creek neighborhood, the use of alternate entrances is a hot topic among those affected. However, for the sake of everyone’s safety in Big Canoe, all of the proposed solutions we’re hearing about come with their own problems – and even risks – to the larger Big Canoe population. Each scenario has safety issues, which I’ve tried to address below:
Q: With the closure of Wilderness Parkway, why can’t Property Owners who normally use the Main Gate (such as those living in the Equestrian, Twin Creeks, Choctaw and other neighborhoods) use the Choctaw Gate rather than use the North Gate?
A: Choctaw Gate must be available for fire trucks and other emergency vehicles to gain access to Big Canoe, especially because other entrance such as the Bluffs Gate entrance has a more challenging grade for larger emergency vehicles.
Also, the closest outside fire station that we normally would rely on is located on Yellow Creek Road, so the Choctaw Gate would provide the quickest, easiest access for them to come to the community’s aid.
Another issue with using Choctaw is that it is a one-lane road. If it were opened to cars, Property Owner vehicles could unnecessarily put people’s lives by delaying or blocking the arrival of life-saving EMTs and other essential personnel. On top of that, Choctaw does not have transponder access, so we can’t use the gate in the same way that we use the Main or North gates.
Q: Why can’t Bluffs Gate be used?
A: As our General Manger Scott Auer explained at the Jan. 26 Board meeting, the gate can be used only by Bluffs residents and construction vehicles associated with properties in the Bluffs, according to a legal easement from the owner of the street that runs from the gate to Cove Road. The POA has no authority over the road.
Q: Aren’t other gates available?
A: Other gates are not equipped to securely deal with vehicles. Like Choctaw, none have transponder service and many are unpaved. And frankly, they’re just not designed to deal with the increased level of traffic. Something to consider: On a typical day in February, an average of 1,000 cars enter or exit through the Main Gate. Those numbers go up in March. Besides the Main Gate, the only gate that can manage such traffic flow is the North Gate.
In case of an emergency, call 911. For any public safety issues, contact our Public Safety department at (706) 268-3376.