Wake Ed

Raleigh apartment complex criticized for banning bookmobile

The owners of a Raleigh apartment complex that banned a school’s bookmobile but allows ice cream trucks on the property is taking heat Friday night on social media for its decision.

Dozens of negative comments have been posted on Facebook and Twitter since The News & Observer reported Friday how Landmark Apartment Trust, the Florida-based owners of Grand Arbor Reserve, recently told volunteers from Lacy Elementary School they could no longer bring their summer bookmobile on the property to read books with students. Words such as “shameful,” “short-sighted disservice” and “atrocious” have been posted on social media to describe the decision to forbid any event at the complex unless it’s sponsored by Landmark. .

Representatives of Landmark initially said “the new policy serves to protect the interests of our residents and the property owner,” but had declined further comment. But after receiving criticism, including on the company’s Facebook page, Landmark issued a new statement Friday night defending its decision to ban the bookmobile.

“We appreciate everyone’s opinion on this important matter,” Landmark said in the new statement posted on its Facebook page. “As we communicated to The News & Observer, which the paper did not include in its article, we commend Lacy Elementary School’s efforts to advance childhood education.

“While we are unable to support this important initiative as we have in the past, we are currently exploring other ways to do so. We wish the program continued success and have made recommendations to Lacy school officials for alternative venues to host future planned activities.”

Landmark’s new statement didn’t satisfy some critics.

“You commend the school's efforts but you obstruct their ability to make the efforts,” Peter Franklin wrote in his reply to the statement. “Corporate double speak.”

Melanie James of Herfford commented “hollow excuses” and asked “why can you not support this?”

“Bringing books to children is a service--like cable company or water company or the ice cream truck provides,” Vibrina Coronado commented in response to the company’s statement. “THE ONLY SUPPORT YOU NEED TO SUPPLY is to allow the book mobile people to provide the service they provide on site where the children and their parents live. It's that simple.”

It’s uncertain whether the recommendations that Landmark said it made to Lacy for alternative venues would be viable.

The bookmobile has limited opportunities to reach Grand Arbor Reserve residents if teachers can’t go onto the property, Lacy Principal Candace Watson said in the article. Some sites are nearby, but they would require students to cross Lake Boone Trail, a major road that leads to Interstate 440.

“As far as other options, there really aren’t any,” Watson said.

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