College Impact 101: Way of Life

By KBJR News 1

October 14, 2010 Updated Oct 16, 2010 at 1:40 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - East Hillside resident Stinea LaPaugh will be the first to tell you her family takes full advantage of what UMD has to offer. But, living near campus for nearly 15 years and now just two blocks away, she has some concerns about her collegiate neighbors.

"The occasional parties, you know, you wake up on Sunday morning, you take your dogs for a walk and there are broken beer bottles and stuff like that around," LaPaugh said.

Beyond that, is a housing crunch. It's an issue she says the college and city hasn't accounted for.

"That has created problems just with taking older homes that are unattended three bedroom homes and people are making them into six bedroom boarding house with parking lots in the backyard and front yard," she said.

It's growing concerns, like LaPaugh's, that a group called Campus Neighbors is out to tackle.

"Right now we're concerned about balance in the neighborhoods and the conversion of too many houses to rentals," said Susan Schumacher, a member of the organization "Campus Neighbors."

The group works to keep the peace between college campuses and the community. A peace of mind, Steve Lyon, the dean of students at the college of St. Scholastica says is vital.

"We've been here for one hundred years, so we've been a part of the community for a long time," Lyon said. "We have a strong relationship with most of our neighbors."

But that relationship can turn ugly when police need to step in.

Rob Hakala is the East Hillside community police officer. His goal is to put a stop to problems before they start.

"In a nutshell, we want to reduce 911 calls and improve the quality of life," Hakala said.

A quality of life, Officer Hakala says, that has greatly improved over the years.

"I don't know if words can express the problem," Hakala said. "People who live near the campus know what I'm talking about, when I talk about parties with 75-100 students in a house, 5 to 10 a night we had to clear out."

Both Police and the Campus Neighbors organization credit the 300 foot rule and a social host ordinance for a dramatic cut in party calls. In fact, police say party calls are down 50 percent over last year.

Schumacher is relying on the recently passed unified development code in Duluth to help deal with issues unique to neighborhoods near college campuses.

"You have all these groups who need to share these neighborhoods and we try to be a place where people can bring their concerns forward so everyone can have a healthy neighborhood," Schumacher said.

In the meantime, Lyon says most residents remain patient and supportive of his students who call their neighborhoods home.

"What I found with the neighbors is that they are for the most part really positive about college students."

A positive relationship that yields success in the classroom and in the community.

The Campus Neighbors group will hold its next meeting on October 19th.

Campus Neighbors

East Hillside Community Police Officer Facebook Page

Written for the web by Kevin Jacobsen