Scared and angry in Gold Key

| 29 Sep 2011 | 09:10

    DINGMAN - Frightened by ongoing arson fires in their neighborhoods and frustrated by responses from community and police officials, many Gold Key Lakes residents vented their feelings at a tense Sunday afternoon meeting. The sunny, placid lake made an incongruous background as about 100 residents of the 850-home development created a standing-room-only crowd on the Club House deck. They had lots of questions, but few of the answers pleased them. The association board had not invited the state police to attend. “They’re not going to tell you anything, anyway,” said association president Jerry Goldberg. “It’s hard to believe you didn’t ask the state police to attend this meeting, at least to come and tell us what’s going on .... It’s mind blowing,” a man said. Goldberg, who also reports Dingman area news as a correspondent for the Courier, was wary of a suggested neighborhood watch. “It’s a criminal investigation,” he said. “Anyone who interferes will get arrested.” Board member Ira Merbaum said the state police have recommended against the watch. “We have to adhere to their wishes. They’re asking us not to,” he said. “How many houses burning down does it take (before we can)?” a woman in the audience asked. There have been seven reported fires set in homes under construction, mostly at sites near the development’s outer perimeters. “(Gold Key) Security is working day and night with the state police. We know your concerns .... Everybody wants to help,” Merbaum said. When a man asked if Gold Key kids could be involved, several people quickly came to their defense. “Our kids cannot be blamed. Everyone’s trying to work together,” one woman said. Pointing to the Courier’s account of youths seen running through a yard in the vicinity of the July 21, midnight fire, another woman was adamant. “I resent the inference that kids are involved. It could be a fireman, it could be anybody,” she said. Others were concerned about security from intruders as Gold Key is not a gated community and has open access from both Log Tavern Road and Turf Road, which connects to Sunrise Lakes. There were calls for the purchase of night surveillance optical equipment and increased security. But George King, who identified himself as a 42-year veteran police officer quieted the group, saying, “The way you’ll solve this is somebody will see something. If you see something write it down. We’re all scared and nervous. Keep your eyes open. The state police can ride around here, but they won’t notice something out of place, that you will.” Merbaum appealed to King and other resident police officers to revive the community’s security committee. Residents met privately with state police on Wednesday evening.