Fence To Fight Crime?

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WILKES-BARRE -- A new chain-link fence was put up Monday at a troubled housing complex in Wilkes-Barre.

Some hope the fence near the Sherman Hills apartment complex will help with the crackdown on crime.   Others say it's creating more problems.

Two weeks ago we first told you about safety changes to parking and visitors at Sherman Hills to try to make the area safer.

On Monday, contractors installed a new fence on the property border. But the family of a disabled man at a neighboring apartment complex says they now feel trapped.

As contractors unrolled new fencing along the property line of Sherman Hills, Mary Fuller and her grandson Stephen watched through the chain-link fence that now blocks what was once an open gateway.

"This was the only way. There was a gate here and now they're refusing to put a gate in. So now he's stuck in his apartment until someone can find a way for him to get out," Fuller said.

Fuller says her grandson has been in a wheelchair since fifth grade when he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. There's a ramp out the backdoor.  But through the fence, Stephen says his wheelchair is now limited to the backyard.  There's no elevator or ramp, to get out the front door of the building.

"I'm just worried about getting in and out. to get to doctors, food shopping, take my kid on and off the bus. Now I can't even do that," said Stephen Roberts.

The old chain-link fence had several open gates, but the new fence will not. It will stretch even farther, completely separating the Interfaith Heights property from Sherman Hills.

Some people hope that the new fence will deter crime. Others, such as Lynn Kelly, have their doubts.

"That's exactly what will happen again. They'll cut the holes through it, they don't care. If they want to get in, they're going to get in and it doesn't matter."

Back at the fence, Fuller says she's filed complaints asking for Interfaith Heights to get her grandson a wheelchair-accessible apartment  or to install a ramp by the front stairs.

She says Sherman Hills has refused to install a gate.

"There's two flights of steps. We would have to literally carry him down the steps to put him in the car."

Workers at Sherman Hills kicked us off their property. Managers at both apartment complexes did not return our calls.

A city spokesman told us Monday afternoon that the Department of Housing and Urban Development has been notified about these complaints.

The city would not say if the fence was a safety recommendation.