PLATTSBURGH — No one likes waking up and walking into their living room to find an inebriated stranger passed out near a puddle of vomit.And it's never fun when drunken shouts and whoops wake you up at 2 or 3 in the morning as students make their way home from the bar.But living in a college city, this happens, and while concerned parties say the problem will never be solved, they promise to work hard over the next few months to try to mitigate it some."This is one of the priorities that people discussed with me while I was campaigning door to door," said Plattsburgh City Mayor Donald Kasprzak. "This is an issue that has been festering."On Wednesday, the mayor and Plattsburgh State College President John Ettling announced the formation of a nine-member commission that will study center-city issues and, by mid-July, recommend proposals meant to improve the quality of life in the Center City.
The commission will be chaired by Dr. Edward Miller, Plattsburgh State chemistry professor and former interim provost."We will probably meet quite often to meet the target of mid-July," said Miller at a press conference held at City Hall.Kasprzak and Ettling will also attend the second-annual Best Practices in Building University/City Relations Conference in Florida this June.Plattsburgh is not unique, in that most municipalities with an institution of higher learning within their boundaries deal with the same problems that have been plaguing the Center City for years.Specifically, residents here complain of noisy college students, theft, littering, property damage and even individuals entering their properties and either vomiting or passing out.
Ettling, who lives in the Center City, said he and his wife have been awakened during the early-morning hours by drunken shouts and have spent some Sunday mornings picking up beer bottles left on their property.But he stressed that 99.9 percent of his students behave themselves over the weekend, acknowledging that is "cold comfort" to residents who must deal with the ones causing mayhem."This is not a problem that is unique to Plattsburgh," Ettling said. "Nevertheless, it is something we need to attend to."
Numerous attempts to attend to it have taken place over the years, including proposals presented to the Common Council by residents.One such proposal was stricter enforcement of housing codes, though the City Building Inspector's Office indicated last year that more personnel was needed for that.Kasprzak said the city can't afford to hire anyone but that since he's been in office there has been stricter enforcement."I know for a fact they have addressed things a lot quicker since I have been here."
The goals of the commission — comprising residents, landlords, students, a city councilor and college officials — are to identify specific issues facing the Center City and propose practical answers to the problems."People in the Center City have some legitimate concerns," Kasprzak said. "They would like us to address these issues."Any solutions will require constant attention and have to be continued by Ettling's and Kasprzak's successors, Ettling stressed.And for the college's part, he continued, students must be made to understand that they are living in a community much like the one they grew up in."We want them to treat it with respect."