Some residents in the communities near Woodlawn Gardens cemetery, off Soldier Road, are calling for officials to take action on what they described as an ongoing nuisance relating to parked cars blocking the street whenever a funeral is held at that property.
Speaking with The Nassau Guardian yesterday, residents claimed that a new back road built behind dead-end streets has led to more cars being parked through those side streets, as those attending funerals use the back road instead of the front entrance to access the cemetery.
They said this has also led to safety concerns.
Barbara Jean Clancy-Deveaux, a 40-year resident of Dannottage Estates, said, “Now I’m sure that you have driven on Soldier Road at some point when there were funerals…that is the issue that we are facing, and we must, we must, must get it resolved in favor of the residents.
“You can imagine an officer or a police car coming in response to a matter in our communities and they can’t get to the people that need help because the streets are completely clogged with vehicles…”
Edmund St. Louis, of Woodlawn Garden Street – the street leading to the cemetery’s main entrance – claimed he was even blocked from returning home on at least one occasion.
“Not even only on Saturdays, like let’s say if there’s someone important that’s being buried, you can literally not get in,” said the 39-year-old who’s lived in the area for three years.
“You can’t get in at all. There’s police and everything… I remember one time I was trying to get in, they told me that I can’t get in, so I had to drive around and then wait like an hour before I could get in.
“It’s really bad when there’s someone special, I guess.”
A few corners down, on Linkford Street, senior resident Betty Brown said she is concerned about potential criminals passing through the area.
She said she’s been living in the area so long that there was no running water and no electricity when she first moved there.
“That’s an uncomfortable thing because sometimes these people come to funerals and you don’t know their background,” Brown said.
She added, “Sometimes when people come to these funerals, you know some people they don’t have no good intentions, and you don’t know what their motives are.”
On Calvin Street, the next street over, Wilfred Burrows claimed residents recently witnessed an attempted robbery, which he believes is a result of the newly opened back road.
“Just Friday, we had a couple just sitting in their vehicle, right outside their gate, and someone just came…and opened the door, didn’t even see that they were in there,” he claimed.
“So we [already] had crime done start to pick up, and they ran that way (to the other street, via the back road) because now they have road. First they didn’t have no road to run [anywhere] because all over here was just bush.”
Calvin Street, like Linkford Street, appears to be a dead end when viewed on a map.
However, when The Guardian visited yesterday both streets gave access to a large, unpaved back road which in turn gave access to neighboring streets as well as to the cemetery.
On Linkford Street, a wire gate at the end of the street blocking it off from the back road was left wide open.
Meanwhile, on Calvin Street, a large piece of wood and what appeared to be an old car bumper were placed as a makeshift blockade attempting to separate the back road from the street.
Burrows, who has been living in the area for 45 years, said residents of the street placed the items there themselves in an attempt to discourage drivers from using the road as a shortcut.
The Guardian also visited Woodlawn Gardens cemetery yesterday seeking to speak with management about the residents’ comments, but was ultimately told it had no “authorization” to publish comments from the company and escorted us off the property.
‘We need a wall’
Clancy-Deveaux is also a member of the executive committee for the Dannottage Estates Community Association, and also sits on the National Neighborhood Watch Council for the Ministry of National Security.
She said the community associations of Dannottage Estates and Village Estates want “ideally, a six-foot wall” to be built between the cemetery property and the residences the property borders.
Copies of letters the associations sent to officials in the Ministry of Works and Department of Civil Engineering were obtained by The Guardian, along with a petition signed by dozens of residents allegedly in “the communities of “Dannottage Estates, Honeyburn Lane and Village Estates including but not limited to Dawson Street, Calvin Street, Linkford Street, Turnquest Alley and Yametto Cl East” protesting the new back road.
“For the safety and the health of the residents, we need a wall,” Clancy-Deveaux said.
“[W]hy do we say we need a wall? Because anything else that is put there – blocks, boulders, whatever, a fence – people, as we saw on the weekend past, will park there, and then they’ll walk through and they’ll still be able to clog up our streets and everything.
“They’ll park right along the street, or on the street of these dead end streets, and then they’ll walk in. The only resolution we can see is a wall.”
Both Burrows and Brown agreed that a wall would help to resolve the issue, with Brown specifically stating that she wishes to see the back road closed off as well.
Clancy-Deveaux said the community associations’ discussions with various government officials have been “very accommodating and very positive”, however, she said that they are still awaiting “definitive action” to ensure they do not continue to experience the same issue of those streets being “obliterated by traffic”.