Fence Attracts Community Action

on March 18 | in Events | by | with No Comments

The fence which lies on the border of Clarkston Public Library and Clarkston Community Center property had fallen into disrepair. It had collapsed and was easily scaled by vandals, who broke into the field, found the community gardens there, tore out a young crop of carrots and left them uneaten on the ground.

Fence before and afterSusan Rawlins, a neighborhood activist and Clarkston resident, knew that if the community was vocal about the need to repair the fence, it could draw enough attention to the problem that DeKalb County would take notice. The first thing she did was post a comment about the disabled fence on SeeClickFix, a website designed to draw government attention to problems in local communities.

Rawlins said she knew the staff of DeKalb 311, the county’s citizen help center, monitors SeeClickFix and that every comment posted on the SeeClickFix page is sent directly to the DeKalb County Public Works Department. After posting the issue online, she spoke to her neighbors, and she posted links to the SeeClickFix page on Clarkston CommonPlace, another widely-used community website.  CDF also shared the SeeClickFix link on our Facebook feed.

After spreading the word, Rawlins said she received more than 200 e-mails from neighborhood members. The SeeClickFix posting, in total, received 44 comments and 71 votes from individual users. All of these comments were forwarded to the County.

Ted Terry, a community member who was inspired by the widespread interest in the issue, decided to directly contact DeKalb County Commissioner Kathie Gannon.  She, in turn, contacted Ted Rhinehart, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Infrastructure Group of City Departments, which includes Public Works, and he was able to ensure the fence would be fixed.

After checking county maps and sending a survey crew to determine whose land the fence lies on, the county finally decided to use internal maintenance funds to fix the fence. In late February, Rawlins noticed that a maintenance crew was repairing the fence. Rawlins said she spoke to them when they arrived.

“I wanted to make sure they knew that I appreciated them,” she said. “It seems like a small thing but it was a huge thing. It wasn’t just a matter of getting into the field, but it was a safety issue as well.”

In early March, the maintenance crew returned a second time to ensure that the height of the fence was sufficient to keep people from breaking in again.

Rawlins said that the overwhelming interest of community members was instrumental to making the repairs happen. She said she found it truly remarkable that the county and the community were able to work together to make an improvement that the Clarkston Community Center dearly needed.

McKenzie Wren, director of the Clarkston Community Center said she was inspired by what happened. “I am so pleased that the community and the County worked together to protect this important resource. I feel it will increase safety for those who use the field.” she said.

By Justin Leverett
Justin is working with CDF as part of Quaker Voluntary Service

 

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