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downtown Houston. According to Walters’ wife, Cynthia, and other neighborhood witnesses, the fire engine arrived quickly, and firefighters began shocking the man’s heart in an attempt to resuscitate him. Each time they shocked himand they tried more than a dozen timesWalters’ heart would begin beating, but it would not hold a pulse. The medication that would stabilize Walters’ heart was carried by an ambulance, approaching from a different direction. Neighbors heard that ambulance approaching, a block awayand then they heard it stop, hesitate, turn back and circle around in the other direction, traveling over two miles out of the way. It arrived approximately ten to fifteen minutes laterlong enough for Timothy Walters to incur irreparable, catastrophic brain damage. The so-called “911 gate” that had delayed the ambulance had been installed by the city of Houston, over the objections of many of these same neighbors. Just three days earlier they had appeared before the city council to warn of the danger posed by the “traffic control” gate, which recently had been confirmed by neighborhood fire department personnel. They were dismissed by the mayor and the city council with bland reassurances that the gates presented no problems for emergency personnel. Timothy and Cynthia Walters and their three children soon discovered how wrong city officials were. Walters has been permanently incapacitated; Cynthia Walters was recently told by his doctors that her husband suffers from “permanent anoxic brain damage”the result of prolonged deprival of oxygen to the brain. At the time of the emergency, Cynthia Walters worked as an assistant to Houston’s city secretary, and for the next few months, she tried to hold on to her job \(and the family’s health insurto tend to her husband full-time. “It’s like he’s got Alzheimer’s,” she said. “He’s like a new blank page, every day…I’ve got to take care of him every minute, because he won’t stay put, and he doesn’t know what or how to do for himself.” Cynthia Walters had been reluctant at first to publicly criticize her employer’s gate. Her attitude changed after the city’s response. Following a perfunctory investigation, Fire Chief Corral announced that the gate had caused only a brief delay which had no effect on the emergency. “It could have been a disaster,” Corral told the Houston Chronicle, “but it wasn’t.” Cynthia Walters is now considering suing the city, and said, “I feel like they are liable for the delay in Tim receiving the life-saving drugs…he could have had a better chance. He was shocked fifteen or six teen times before [the medics] got here.” Corral also insisted that all emergency personnel have keys for the gates and will use them, but there has since been another medical emergency on the wrong side of the Timbergrove gate, and neighbors say the ambulance driver took one look at the 911 gate and raced off in the opposite directionthe long way to the hospital. According to Susan McMillian, who supervises the NTP and is its spokeswoman for the city administration, there are now nine city projects already in place which are another sixteen projects in the “formal application but not yet constructed” stage. The city’s legal department reviewed these first, for what was termed “unintended discriminatory effects,” and cleared thirteen, delaying three for further review. \(City Attorney Gene Locke declined to comment In addition, there have been a couple of NTPs which did not include gates but used other forms of restricted access. One of these established one-way streets on the edge of a predominantly black, east-side neighborhood called Pleasantville. After black residents protested that they were required to drive miles out of the way to return to their own homes, the one-ways were replaced by less restrictive, narrowed entrances designed to slow or divert cutthrough traffic elsewhere. Why is a “traffic” programin a carchoked city that could certainly use all the traffic amelioration it can getso controversial? One reason is that while the city insists that the NTP is a traffic program only, recognize it for something elsean attempt to exclude “outsiders” \(however defined, and whether driving, on foot, bicythe gated subdivisions. Neighborhood proponents consider it first and foremost a “crime-fighting” measure, while neighborhood opponents describe it, in effect if not intent, as a form of racial and class segregation. McMillian insists that the NTP ordinance, especially in its newly-revised form, recognizes only excessive traffic counts and subsequent engineering recommendations as reasons to close a street. “We must be able to demonstrate that the cut-through traffic is a real problem…. Crime is not an issue. I’m telling you it’s not a justificationtruly it never has been.” City councilwoman Helen Huey, who strongly supports the NTP and heads the committee revising it, echoed McMillian’ s comments and added, “In limiting the ordinance to what is absolutely measurableand that is traffic impactwe are making it as objective as possible.” McMillian noted that “the logic of CPTED” would suggest that diminishing traffic volume might also have an effect on crime, but says she tells civic associations “gates won’t keep out burglars any more than locks do.” BUT IN THE NEIGHBORHOODS, trafficexcept as the only officially sanctioned means of justifying street closuresremains very much an af terthought. The two most controversial NTP projects have been the one in my old neighborhood \(which includes the Timber grove Manor, Clark Pines, Heights Annex and Shady Acres subdivisions and the shops, schools and and the more ambitious Shenandoah/Gulfton project on the southwest side, where the Shenandoah subdivision has applied for an elaborate combi nation of gates, diverters and one-way exits \(some twenty gate it entirely from external traffic. \(The plans were originally drawn to exclude had been recommended to the council for approval, and a single temporary barricade was briefly installed. That came down when the proposed gates became the subject of intense opposition from the surrounding Gulfton neighborhood, which is largely Hispanic; Shenandoah is one of the projects now under review by both HUD and the city. In addition to two other projects under an official cloud, a few gates projects haven’t moved forward because of early opposition. One of these, Braeburn Valley, was the occasion of the Attorney General’s opinion on public records. A lawyer who lives in the subdivision, Bob Rooney, found out about the gates proposal and papered city hall with his formidable objections. As a result, the civic association application apparently never got off the ground. But the Braeburn Valley instance is instructive. When Rooney and several of his neighbors, including his father-in-law \(who had lived in the subdivision for many through fliers distributed by the civic association, they objected because it would make traffic problems worse for them, blocking direct routes to neighborhood schools and forcing elderly drivers into The ambulance driver took one look at the 911 gate and raced off in the opposite directionthe long way to the hospital. 6 OCTOBER 13, 1995