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Greenway Grudge Match Pits Man Versus Machine

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Man took on machine recently as a citizen faced down construction equipment trying to clean up a Raleigh greenway.

When the police arrived on the scene, the result was one upset neighborhood.

WRAL first reported the greenway controversy last week. Neighbors have claimed that, instead of cleaning up the greenway, the city has damaged the beauty of the neighborhood.

The controversy has more than snowballed since the first report aired; it has bulldozed.

"Yes, we are outraged," resident Hal Heatwole said. "The way this was handled was unwarranted vandalism by the City Council."

Some people in the neighborhood equate the situation to using a Sherman tank to mow a lawn. Residents said the greenway was once a shaded little path until the city's bulldozers barrelled through and toppled the trees.

"It looks horrible, and it's sad," Donna Bradbury said.

The city sent the bulldozers because tree roots were interfering with the sewer system. What the city didn't bank on was people interfering with the bulldozers.

In a home video filmed by Heatwole, Heatwole stared down the machine, refusing to budge.

"There are some things which we will tolerate," he said, "and some which we will not."

In the video, Heatwole said: "You can run me over if you want to."

He didn't get run over as he tried to block the bulldozer's path. But he did get a warning from the police.

"What I'd like you to do is go away," he said.

"I'm angry," said Heatwole, "as are most people in this community."

When asked what he would say to Heatwole and the others who are so upset, Public Utilities Director Dale Crisp said: "Well, we say that it's necessary."

Heatwole's response: "That's rubbish. It's rubbish."

Said Crisp: "We're required to maintain these easements to prevent blockages from occurring."

That's "stupid," said Heatwole.

"Would you expect me to cut down all the trees around my house simply because it might cut into my sewer line?" he said. "It's nonsense. It's stupid."

Crisp said he visited the site, and "the work we did out there was not beyond the scope of what was necessary."

Heatwole still didn't buy it.

"They've vandalized this area," he said.

The city said it is restoring the path, seeding and mulching it and plans to finish the work on Friday.

Bradbury echoed Heatwole's sentiment that enough is enough.

"What we've always prided Raleigh as being is going to be nothing but cement if we let this go on," she said.

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