It's for Traffic Control
As a major supporter of the gate at Dian and Wynnwood, I feel I must respond to the biased article ["A Neighborhood Divided," by Jennifer Gin Lee, July 24]:

1. The headline was misleading. We are four separate neighborhoods who all share a common goal of inner-city safety.

2. The gate was installed for traffic control. It has always been our position that the city of Houston must train its personnel. In a June 1996 letter to our association, Fire Chief Eddie Corral once more emphasized that emergency vehicles are checked daily to make sure they are equipped with the 911 keys and that all emergency personnel have been educated in the 911 gate system.

3. The gate has greatly reduced speeding cut-through traffic in Timbergrove Manor, making it safer for children, bikers and neighbors in general. Our subdivision's deed restrictions forbid businesses in Timbergrove Manor. There is no reason why 18-wheelers making deliveries to businesses in Shady Acres and Heights Annex should use residential streets. That was our prime concern when we lobbied for the gate. Durham, Shepherd and 14th Streets are designated arteries and should be used for through traffic.

4. Social and racial segregation never were and aren't now issues for proponents of the gate, yet this topic continually surfaces. Mayor Bob Lanier, after personally touring the area in 1994, declared that there was no basis for racial discrimination and asked that the issue not be brought up again. The four neighborhoods in the recent past have worked together on various civic and environmental projects and we value the cooperation we have seen when we work together as a team. We hope to continue this in the future.

In conclusion, we want to say that as a neighborhood we strongly support the gate and the positive changes it has brought to Timbergrove Manor. We commend the mayor and City Council in this and other efforts they have made in maintaining the integrity of inner-city neighborhoods and working to keep them desirable places in which to live and raise families.

Edna Giles
President, Timbergrove Manor
Neighborhood Association

No, It's for Crime Control
Regarding "A Neighborhood Divided": For ten years I lived on Wynnwood about a quarter mile from where the Dian gate now divides Timbergrove Manor and Heights Annex. In that period, my house was burglarized three times.

On one of those occasions I arrived late home one night to surprise a young man inside; he scrambled out a window and hopped a bicycle. Thoroughly enraged with adrenaline, I ran after him for as long as I could -- east on Wynnwood, then north on Dian, through the now closed intersection.

Another time, early in the darkness, I stepped outside to discover three males who had broken into my neighbor's car and were attempting to start it. They clambered into an old station wagon and fled east on Wynnwood, then north on Dian -- where the gate now stands.

The Wynnwood gate is not a racial issue; my anger at the thieving vermin I encountered had absolutely nothing to do with their ethnicity. The gate is a private property issue, a matter of taking prudent action to protect residents, homes and assets by eliminating the criminal's most convenient avenue of approach and escape.

I of course regret the problem the gate causes for emergency vehicles, but that is a matter of mechanics and procedures, and definitely can be alleviated with a little applied intelligence.

Jim Reynolds

Oxygen Deprivation
Just read "A Neighborhood Divided." It is obvious that this gate is dangerous and delays ambulances. Why doesn't the city remove it?

Dan Jones, deputy director of the city's Public Works and Engineering Department, sounds like he has already been deprived of oxygen. What kind of city employees do we have that would make such insensitive, asinine statements? If his heart (assuming he has one) stopped beating, how long would he like to lie there waiting for the ambulance -- three, five or 15 minutes? Since it is not obvious to Mr. Jones that the longer one deprives oxygen to the brain, the greater the risk of permanent disability, I would be happy to send information from my son's sixth grade science and health book.

Mary Ann Ramos

He Coulda Been a Participant
I would like to tell Brian Wallstin that his article "Holistic Touch" [July 17] was well written. While I will not say that all of the events Brian wrote about were to my recollection, I will say it was a fair and well-rounded story.

Brian contacted me several weeks before the story appeared about my experiences while employed at the River Oaks Health Association (a.k.a. H.E.L.P. House). My reply to Brian's request consisted of my general distrust of the media and my general feeling of "uneasiness" due to the fact I was not geographically close -- as I had wanted to talk with Brian face-to-face, rather than over the telephone. In other words, I declined Brian's request for an interview. But Brian proved me wrong, and he has allayed some of the distrust I have had regarding the media.

My respect and admiration goes out to all of the individuals who participated. Reading their familiar words and hearing their far too familiar stories moved me to the point where I wished that I had participated.

Eric W. Carman
Former housing coordinator,
H.E.L.P. House/River Oaks Health Association
via Internet

Macho Investigative Journalism Decried
What exactly is the relevance of Tom Combs's HIV status to the alleged improprieties at the River Oaks Health Alliance? None. The real news in your July 17 edition is that the Press will not hesitate to publish highly personal information about the subjects of its macho investigative journalism, even if the goods are obtained from seemingly filched records. Therein lies a potent threat to reticent sources and a predictable disappointment for those of us who recognize the need for responsible alternatives to our town's sleepy daily.

The next time Brian Wallstin pens an expose of someone else's faulty judgment or misuse of power, his readers can rest assured that he knows what he is writing about.

Andrew C. Friedman
via Internet

Brian Wallstin replies: The information regarding Tom Combs's HIV status came from Combs himself in telling me how he had benefited from his years of treatment by Joanne Mandel. In that context, the information was certainly relevant to the story, and it was not obtained from "filched" records.


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