Gated Communities

Some first-impressions never change.

I don’t like gated communities, and I never have. The idea of having to check in with a guard or gate operator before you go to your house or the need to tell the guard about your guests just seems strange to me in a big-brother sense, perhaps. Or the communities that aren’t exactly gated, but still have a little hut at the front and a fence around the perimeter also baffle my mind. However, I attribute my dislike for gated communities to one particular instance.

I remember running one afternoon, when I was about 13 or 14, during my summer training for cross-country. I ran down my friend’s dead end block that used to lead to trails, but now led to a development. We would watch the townhouses going up as we rode our bikes through the remaining trails. At the end of the block was now a large chain link gate, but we could squeeze through the opening. We had done this before in order to add distance to our training runs. The loop in the new development provided a good mile extra or so. All we did was run on the streets, nothing else.

This time I was by myself but still wanted to run that familiar loop. As I approached the gate and inspected on how to squeeze through, some woman walking by told me that I was not allowed in there. I said that I just wanted to run, but she continued to tell me how I couldn’t come in. And then she wouldn’t leave until I ran in the other direction. My 13 year old blood boiled. How could she tell me where I was and was not allowed to run?

To clarify, this community is not “gated” in the sense of a guard at the gate. It’s one of those with a hut at the only outlet of the development and nothing else. It’s a plain townhouse development and always has been. And I was not the 13 year old kid who looked as if she were about to cause a lot of trouble.

Even to this day, that woman who yelled at me for wanting to run within those gates, has left a sour impression about these developments that claim to offer the good life, these collections of culs-de-sac with a center pool and townhouses or McMansions. I still do not like them, but for different reasons. Now I see them as impostors to good development. They are still developments that cater to the automobile, but trick people to believing otherwise and therefore are often overpriced. My biggest pet peeve is when the development is named after a farm that it replaced or if it has something woodsy in its title. It’s just misinformed remembrance, in my opinion.

Of course, this is a generalization and I’m basing this post on such developments that I know from around Long Island. Feel free to describe otherwise. But, I am going to continue to blame the woman who banned little 13 year old me from running in that development. Today I include a different townhouse fake-gated community on my running route, but I occasionally feel as if someone is going to stop me and ask me where I live in that development. What nerve.