Picturesque Hot Springs Village, stretching across 26,000 acres in the beautiful Ouachita Mountains, has the prestigious honor of being the largest gated community in the United States and possibly the world. Six gates provide access into the Village – two manned and four unmanned gates. As we all know, the Village faces a daily challenge with tailgaters obtaining unauthorized entry through unmanned gates.

Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down and talking to Matt Broom, HSVPOA Associate Director of Public Services, and Tom Benfield, Community Support Manager, to discuss the subject of unmanned gates, specifically the unmanned Balboa Gate. While this report primarily focuses on the Balboa Gate, a recent Glazy Peau Gate issue is discussed, and identification for manned gate entry is also mentioned.

Acknowledging the problem and working on solutions

How big is the problem?

Benfield said, “Tailgating at the unmanned gates is not a problem we can hide. It is out there. We know it’s out there, and honestly, for the two years that I have been involved with this department, I have racked my brain trying to think of ways we can stop tailgating. What things could we put in place? What monitoring could we do? What message could we put out there to stop tailgating? It’s a problem. It really is. Everybody who uses those gates knows it is a problem, and it is not something we are trying to hide. We are trying to acknowledge it, and we are working on it. We are constantly looking for better ways to control entry.”

“I’ve spent some time observing the unmanned gates, and there are usually several vehicles that turn around while I sit there,” shared Benfield. While he removed the “Compliance” label from the white vehicles, people can still see it is a POA vehicle. It seems it is a deterrent if he sits there with his flashers on. On the other hand, he said he has seen people tailgate right in front of him.

Benfield estimates conservatively that no less than 50 vehicles per day are tailgating through Balboa Gate.

Why does it make a difference if I tailgate into the Village as long as I have a current decal on my window?

“It matters because it makes it harder for staff to control nonmember entry. People think it is okay if they see Members tailgating into the Village at unmanned gates. We must set the standard for the community and demonstrate what is expected.”

What can happen if I’m caught tailgating?

Benfield said that it is clearly written in our *Protective Covenants Governing Documents that this is a violation. “This violation can result in an immediate fine of $150. Tailgating by Members may also result in suspension of privileges. We can turn their cards off for 30 days and during this time period they must use the manned gates. They also cannot use any amenities – gym, golfing, etc. for the suspension period.”

What about unauthorized drivers tailgating into the Village?

Unmanned gates allow entry by scanning your POA identification card; all others should enter through the manned East and West gates.

All guests must enter the manned East and West Gates. This policy is for security purposes. Please don’t instruct your guests to tailgate or let them tailgate behind you. Also, do not provide your card for them to scan.

Benfield said the POA has the right to press charges against trespassers. “This is private property, and trespassers are entering through an illegal means. Without permission, we can press trespassing charges,” stated Benfield. Benfield said he verified this with Police Chief Kristi Bennett. Our common properties are private and owned by the Membership.

What are the benefits of scanning your POA ID card at the unmanned gates?

“The card readers keep track of entry numbers for analysis towards future gate planning. For example, if we think that 1,500 people are using a particular gate in a day, but it is closer to 2,000, this makes future road and gate maintenance planning inaccurate and more difficult,” explained Community Support Manager.

“The bottom line is we are more secure and have the right numbers for budget planning when you use your card to enter through the unmanned gates,” expressed Bennett.

What should I do if someone tailgates me into the Village?

  • Do not stop and obstruct traffic if someone attempts to tailgate you into the Village.
  • Do not get out of your vehicle and confront the offender.
  • If it is feasible and safe, try to obtain the offender’s license plate number and make a report to *Community Support.

What identification is accepted at the manned gates?

Benfield said, “This is important because I think some people tailgate in because they don’t think they have the right credentials to enter through the manned gates.” Listed below are the forms of identification accepted at the manned gates.

  • Village-issued work pass – a work pass decal or showing your work pass to the guard is a valid entry identification. To obtain a work pass, sign up and pay a fee at Member Services at the POA Administration Building at 895 DeSoto Boulevard. Decals enter through the right lane. Other documentation enters through the left lane.
  • You can show the left-lane guard your driver’s license with your Village address.
  • If you have been called in as a guest or visitor by a Member, you may enter by showing the left-lane guard your driver’s license. You will be issued a dashboard pass at the gate.
  • If you have proof of a tee time, tickets to a show, a doctor’s appointment, banking business, or restaurant reservations, you enter the left lane and show proof to the guards.
  • A delivery driver can show the guard proof of delivery with the invoice.
  • Last, you can enter through the manned gates using the right lane if you have a decal.

Phone App Coming Soon

“We have a phone app coming out soon with “Gate Access” as an option,” said Benfield. It is helpful to the gate guards if you use the phone app or the Explore the Village website to call in your guests and visitors instead of contacting them by telephone. Often, the gate guards cannot keep up with the phone traffic, and using the app or website saves both the guards and your time.

Broom & Benfield aim to reduce tailgating at HSV Gates Phone app

What can the POA Members do to help?

Benfield welcomes the constructive ideas of Property Owners to help solve this problem, but remember options must be weighed against the budget. “There are some very expensive options out there to do this. But that is not something we are in a position to do at this point. I will welcome any suggestion that might spark a new idea or direction,” said Benfield. Tom Benfield can be emailed at

What actions have been taken to reduce tailgating at the Balboa Gate?

Benfield said he wanted to ensure that everyone understands the efforts at the Balboa Gate to reduce tailgating. These efforts were began last fall.

Broom said, “What we have in place at the Balboa Gate is a deterrent, more or less.” He said what they are doing at the most heavily trafficked gate is a test to see how the public responds.” All deterrent measures taken are low-cost.

First deterrent – bollard installation

Broom said they began the unauthorized entry gate deterrent program by installing bollards, a short post used to create a visual guide to guide traffic and mark boundaries.  Broom said the number of the bollards, installed late last year, was increased further down the road to prevent drivers from pulling off on the road shoulder. In the past, people who did not have an entry card would wait along the side of the road for someone to scan their card, and then the unauthorized person would tailgate into the village. Bollards were also installed in the center, where the line starts to split to deter people from parking in this area. Broom said this measure works.

Broom & Benfield aim to reduce tailgating at HSV Gates 2
Bollard installation at HSV Balboa Gate.

Second deterrent – speed bump

“We installed a speed bump close to the card reader to mitigate people from speeding up to tailgate. The speed bump is meant to slow drivers down so the gate has time to close before they can tailgate. We may install an additional speed bump,” stated Broom.

Broom & Benfield aim to reduce tailgating at HSV Gates Balboa Gate speed bump
Speed bump at HSV Balboa Gate

Third deterrent – stop sign

“There is a tall stop sign with two signs underneath it. The sign directly under the stop sign says, “STOP HERE – Card Access only – Please wait for vehicle ahead to pass through gate before proceeding.” The bottom sign says, “Tailgating is strictly prohibited and may result in vehicle damage.” The reason behind the installation of the signs is this gives people a chance to stop and read another sign that says, “Card access only – Turn around here and go to the East Gate.” “This gives people a chance to avoid pulling up to the gate while they still have the option of turning around. This is the last turn around chance,” explained Broom

“We have several signs from Highway 5, allowing multiple opportunities to turn around and go to the East Gate. The East Gate is only two miles down the road,” stated Broom.

Broom & Benfield aim to reduce tailgating at HSV Gates Balboa Gate
Stop Sign at HSV Balboa Gate

What is coming in the future?

Possible future deterrents

Broom said they are still monitoring the deterrents and will put new measures in place, possibly a second speed bump. We are working with a company that supplies mechanized gate parts to see if installing modules at the unmanned gates can change how they open and close. This would be our best deterrent if we could get a module to work on our existing system. This is in the exploratory stages, and “we don’t have any good news to say that this is happening yet. It is just something we want to happen. It is a possibility.”

Deterrents at other unmanned gates

Deterrent measures will also be taken at the Danville and Glazy Peau Gates. “The terrain is a little different in those areas, and we may have to get more creative with what measures we put in place. I expect to have something in place this year,” the Associate Public Service Director said.

Glazy Peau Gates

Recently, there was a discussion in my Facebook group about issues at the Glazy Peau Gates, so I took advantage of this opportunity to ask Mr. Benfield about this.

Benfield said, “This is everything I know. When we first went online approximately three weeks ago with Northstar, [the new software], they put only the Glazy Peau gates online with Northstar to see what would happen.” There were a lot of complaints because many people could not get into the Glazy Peau Gates with their POA ID cards. They pulled Northstar off the Glazy Peau Gates, reinstalled the old system, and modified the program.

Some older POA cards have six numbers, while others have seven. There was a problem with the machine reading the cards with six numbers. The software company reworked that issue and “pushed it [Northstar] back out on Thursday, February 22, and there were still problems. “I know they were out there on February 22 working on the issue,” stated Benfield.

“We needed to use the Glazy Peau gate for a test because the traffic count is high enough to get a sampling of what was going on,” said Benfield.

The Glazy Peau Gates will continue to be tweaked as needed. “We need to get it figured out. Once all the kinks are worked out, Northstar will be installed on all the unmanned gates,” explained Benfield.

Older POA ID cards are being phased out

Benfield said the thick older POA ID cards, which have HID embossed on the back, need to be replaced. He said the cards are as thick as two credit cards. If you have one of these cards, come into Member Services at the POA Administration Office to be issued a new card at no cost.

The bottom line

The bottom line is we live in a gated community. We knew that when we moved here, we were responsible for following the rules. General Manager Kelly Hale always said, “It is a privilege to live in the Village.”

Contact Community Support

*The Community Support Report or Request Form on the Explore the Village website can be found here:
Then click “Services” and then click “Community Support.”

Featured image: (l to r) Matt Broom, HSVPOA Associate Director of Public Services, Tom Benfield, Community Support Manager

*Edited February 28, 2024

By Cheryl Dowden

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