Garner: Opinion

‘Big lie’ shows a rapidly changing Garner

“If you must lie, lie big” is a frequent propaganda tool used by those who don’t want to fully take responsibility for their actions. A few weeks ago – early in the morning of course – the residents of Garner’s Perdue Street began to hear the noises we knew were coming.

We had received a hint in the form of signs affixed to temporary construction fencing erected on the large swath of land next to our street. In big red letters on a white background, written in English and Spanish, it says: Tree Protection Area. Do Not Enter.

Therein lies the big lie. If you happen to be driving down Garner Road, near its intersection with Vandora Springs Road, you will immediately notice something different about what you see behind all of those “tree protection area” signs: The trees that used to be there are gone. Yep, the signs tell the exact opposite of the truth. The signs should state: Tree Clear-Cutting Area.

The unpleasant sounds we began hearing were metal saw teeth grinding into wood at dizzying RPMs, followed just seconds later by the cracking of a tree trunk. In a flash, a tree that took decades for nature to grow was reduced to dead wood. As I looked at the stand of trees from my backyard, I was shocked to see a tree about eight stories tall being picked up by a massive machine I could not see and plucked out from the others as if it were a weed.

The destructive efficiency of that machine is unsettling. After just a couple of days, the folks on Perdue Street were seeing the most sunlight we’ve ever seen on our street,as large swaths of land were laid bare, the trees felled. From Garner Road, our Perdue Street homes are now visible for the first time in decades as the land is readied for another development of new Garner homes.

With the onset of early spring here in our town, I can’t help but wonder how many small creatures and birds have been displaced by this clear-cutting of an 18-acre tract that was a rich natural habitat. The pond that was there is gone too, filled in to make room for a new neighborhood.

Even as I write this column, the sounds of grinding and cracking fill the air. I know, this is America, and people who own land have a right to sell it to whomever they wish. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

I have never been fond of my town’s efforts to be more like Cary. Garner, a town with some of the most affordable housing in the Triangle, has always had a blue-collar, working-class reputation – we were small enough to be uniquely intimate in a fast-growing region of the country.

Sometime in the 1960s or 1970s, then-Mayor Bill Rand installed Garner’s first traffic light – right at the end of Perdue Street, where the mayor lived. His Honor was having a tough time pulling out onto Garner Road. That traffic light, now long gone, would sure be helpful today.

This morning, more than three dozen vehicles came around a blind turn on Garner Road toward Perdue Street as I waited to pull out as I drove my daughter, Mary Evelyn, to school.

When the new development of about 40 homes is completed, I will have an even longer wait to get out onto Garner Road because another new road – going in and out of the new neighborhood – will be adding to the traffic congestion. With a railroad crossing in the mix at the same intersection, life will be getting more complicated – and more hazardous – for all of us.

During the approval process for the new subdivision, known as Kelly’s Crossing, the Perdue Street neighbors made our case to Garner officials that the impact of yet another housing development would detract from the town’s quality of life. We were heard to a degree, and the developer made some concessions, but ultimately, the bulldozers are on site now, and the once-pristine tract that was home to deer and other wildlife is no more.

Now the view from the backyards of my Perdue Street neighbors is already a muddy mess. The trees keep disappearing at a fast clip, and the place were my neighbors used to sit and enjoy nature and beauty is already gone.

I have been thinking for a while now that Raleigh, and Wake County as a whole, is starting to look more and more like Atlanta, which by some accounts has the worst traffic congestion in the country.

Make no mistake about it folks, the politicians, bankers, developers and Realtors are fully behind this effort to keep building in Garner until we run out of empty space. So keep your eyes open, and when you see those tree-protections signs, be sure to take a good look, because the tress you see will soon be gone. It’s the big lie again.