Plans to construct five public access gates in Eastover are moving ahead one step at a time.
“We have begun the process of collecting bids for the work,” said Dana F. Robertson, executive director of the Greater Eastover Neighborhood Foundation.
The Jackson City Council approved the foundation’s plan for gating on June 29.
The foundation plans to add public gates at Eastover Drive at Ridgewood Road, Eastbourne Place at Ridgewood Road, Lake Circle between Restbrook Place and Rhymes Place, Douglass Drive between Ridgewood and Lake Circle and Quail Run Road at East Manor Drive.
Extensive landscaping and pedestrian walkways will be installed at each gate location. Each gate will be equipped with a battery backup so it could operate in case of a power failure.
Eastover sought public access gates for about seven years, Robertson said. The city’s gating ordinance was revised in November 2020 to make the process more transparent, which prolonged Eastover’s quest for gating.
More than 80 percent of the residents of Eastover voted in favor of pursing gates, Robertson said.
Meredith VanDevender, an Eastover resident for eight years, said her family chose to live in Eastover because it is a neighborhood where residents pick up trash, plant flowers, get to know each other and care about their community.
“We want to have all of the amenities that we could here without moving to Madison or Ridgeland,” she said.
Susan Nix, an Eastover resident, favors public access gates because they will help slow traffic and, when paired with video cameras, help keep the neighborhood secure.
The gate at Quail Run Road at East Manor Drive drew the most discussion during the June 29 council meeting, with three residents of East Manor Drive making comments. One of them said he was philosophically opposed to neighborhoods erecting gates within the city of Jackson because “gates at best are elitist, at worst, separatist.”
Crane Kipp, an East Manor Drive resident, sought assurance that the gate at Quail Run Road at East Manor would remain open at peak times and that it remains a two-way gate.
“Those are important issues to my neighbors,” he said. “We need to know the answers to those questions.”
Jordan Rae Hillman, director of Planning and Development for the city of Jackson, said the council order included:
• Language acknowledging that the Quail Ridge Road gate must remain two way.
• The request that the Quail Ridge Road gate be programmed to remain open during peak traffic times.
• The request that the Eastbourne Place gate be programmed to remain open during time required for school traffic management at Casey Elementary.
•All gates have pedestrian walk arounds as required by ordinance.
Jim Hathcock, an East Manor Drive resident for 17 years, told the council he is not opposed to public access gates, but some neighborhoods lend themselves to them more than others and the layout of Eastover does not.
Quail Run Road provides a route to Meadowbrook Road for residents in the neighborhoods near Wedgewood Street and Southwood Road. “I will go through that gate a minimum of four times every day and more often on some days,” Hathcock said.
When a council member asked about the notification process for residents near the Quail Run/East Manor gate, Hillman said that 24 residents in the East Manor/Quail Run Road were notified of the foundation’s request to put a gate there and the opportunity to participate in a community meeting last March to learn more about the plan. In addition, signs were posted at the proposed locations and a notice was posted on the city’s website.
“Were there people living on East Manor who supported the gates?” Hillman said. “Yes. We had some (people who were) neutral with questions. Some identified as opposed to gates.”
The gates will help slow traffic and provide for neighborhood safety, said Jackson City Council member Ashby Foote of Ward 1.
“I think it will enhance Eastover, which is an important part of the Jackson community,” he said. “It’s great to have a high-end neighborhood like that.”
The foundation must foot the bill for the installation and maintenance of each gate.
Massena Heights, Northlake, Northpointe, Rollingwood, Heatherwood, Petit Bois, Avery Gardens and the Country Club of Jackson are neighborhoods in northeast Jackson that have public access gates. Brookwood in south Jackson also has them.
No other requests for public access gates are before the city.