The City-Campus Commission Report: The Community Perspective
The community looks to make some changes and foster a positive relationship with the college
One morning, a resident of the City of Plattsburgh came out to find footprints and a dent on her car. Another time, the same resident found a drunken student sleeping in her living room. Nancy Strack, a resident of Plattsburgh for 46 years, retells these stories and remembers the anger and frustration of neighbors with such behavior. "One friend had a young tree (her 50th birthday present) broken in half on her lawn. She really likes kids and knows it's not everyone, but she's been scared, sad, and very angry about the incidents," Strack said.
The series of recommendations from the taskforce addressed a variety of issues. The four main efforts on the part of the city, according to Kasprzak, deal with noise ordinances, defining a functioning family, individual registry with the city, and building inspections.
The noise ordinance for the City of Plattsburgh has been in effect since 1988. The city-campus commission report proposed revisions to more clearly and concisely "state the intent and purpose of the chapter and the City’s commitment to fostering the well-being of its residents and enjoyment by them of their homes." With the revisions, city police will have a clearer definition of what violates the noise ordinance and can effectively address these concerns.
"The more the students know the city, the more they will appreciate it and involve themselves in the community."
Another recommendation also challenged the city to redefine a family under single-family zoning laws. A memorandum from the Supreme Court requires that the definition of a single-family be present in all zoning schemes "aimed at achieving a homogeneous, traditional single-family neighborhood." The taskforce looked at the review technique of the City of Poughkeepsie and decided that the Zoning Administrator should consider these guidelines: whether the group shares the entire house, lives and cooks together as a single housekeeping unit, shares expenses for food, rent, utilities or other household expenses, and is permanent and stable.
"I get very discouraged and frustrated with the fact that a small percentage of the student population is disrespectful."
While Kasprzak and the city-council are currently focusing on these four issues, the taskforce did come up with 14 major recommendations and 25 general recommendations to be considered. Kasprzak said that at the beginning of the process he supported an extensive list of recommendations, but emphasized "we will only implement the most practical ones," also stating that the city has a limited amount of resources to fix the problem. Some of the other recommendations look at creating a larger police force to implement some of the other recommendations, and a reduction of liquor licenses within the City of Plattsburgh which, Kasprzak noted, is a state government matter.
"Other cities I've dealt with go full force ahead when so much is done for them and presented to them to make life better," Monette said. "Our city council should be moving at a fast pace to look at ways that all the recommendations can be moved into place as quickly as possible."
Kasprzak challenged this notion commenting on the need for extensive discussion before changing any laws. "We have to look at the long-term impact of our decisions on all the residents," he commented. Adding "we have x amount of resources to fix the problem and people want change, but they also don’t want higher taxes."
A common sentiment among all parties involved suggests for a stronger connection of students to the Plattsburgh community and, therefore, a greater respect. "Think of the positive outcome when many join together for something good. We need to recreate a spirit of community and right-living within our neighborhoods and hopefully that will extend to our downtown area as well," Monette says.
Kasprzak considers himself to be actively involved in conversations with the current city-council and looking to engage in the same conversation with the newly elected city-council. Combined with the implementation of the four major recommendations he feels "the more the students know the city, the more they will appreciate it and involve themselves in the community."
The Business Perspective:
Downtown Plattsburgh's Tabu Nightclub is a hot spot for students during the weekend. Tabu provides a karoke night every Thursday starting at 5pm for anyone in the community who is interested. A group of students from SUNY Plattsburgh have organized a Thursday night event called "Climatic Thursdays," with free admission to any student who would like to attend. Friday and Saturday nights, students flock to the location between 11pm to 2am.
According to bouncer Seth Connor, Tabu offers a dancing facility for students and community members of all types of demographics perpetuating their success.
"I find students are more respectful of security staff than locals and are less likely to start a fight," stated Connor.
In his perception, the bars and clubs located in downtown Plattsburgh somewhat survive off of student attendance. He mentioned some, like Tabu, would remain open even without the college students, but others would possibly close. Connor also commented on how the college does bring an economic boost to the area, and without the students, there would be a change.
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