Monday, November 05, 2007

Touring The Combat Zone

A winter night. Walking through the central neighborhood of Plattsburgh, on my way to a college event. Groups of young people on each side of the street, throwing flaming toilet paper at each other.

A warm, sunny day. Walking down a sidewalk in Center City. I easily notice across the street three young guys who have flipped a car over in a driveway. Shouting, screaming, swearing, they’re kicking away on the car, one beating it with a baseball bat, windows cracked and shattered. Gas pours out all over the ground.

For decades Center City has suffered from the plight of unruly college students. And while those students are in the minority, it’s a potent minority. So few cause so much trouble.

But there’s profit to be made if you’re a landlord. Buy a one family house, chop it into apartments, and rent them out to college students. House by house the character of the neighborhood changes. Vandalism and noise. Rudeness reigns. Come home and find a college couple getting ready to couple behind your hedges. Or enter your bedroom and find a complete stranger, a drunken college student, passed out in your bed. (Make sure to check the sheets for vomit.)

Taxpayers who reside in Center City complain. Complain to the mayor, the police chief, the college president. Lately some of these issues have been coming to a head. Advocates are pushing for something to be done. But they run up against the money angle. Landlords and developers want to make a profit on their investments. The city wants to collect taxes on those investments.

But what about the enforcement of zoning, civil, and criminal laws to control the problems? Once again: it’s a matter of money. The city has a limited budget; it doesn’t have enough building inspectors and police officers to handle the situation.

So Center City remains plagued by vandalism and noise and litter and overall disrespect.

Welcome to The Combat Zone.


Anonymous said...

Congrats Luke for your insight to this problem.
Most homeowners who are not directly affected by this issue don't realize that they, indeed, are feeling this insidious decay that is happening to Plattsburgh. There are so many people to blame for this problem it's laughable.

1. The Landlords as you mention who only collect the rent then conveniently disappear.
2. The city for refusing to enforce laws by hiding behind lame excuses such as lack of manpower, discrimination and grandfather clauses.
3. The court and our illustrious Judge who time after time slap the wrist of these felons.
4. The College in its infinite wisdom that can't understand that if they have the power to invite these idiots (students) to Plattsburgh they also have the power to expel them when they break laws in our community.
5. Parents with their lack of discipline for turning out offspring that have no maturity, morals or commons sense.
6. The students themselves who blame alcohol for turning themselves into nothing but drunks, sluts and punks.

Will things change? Sure Luke, for the worse I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

hi, luke. nancy sent me this blog of yours. it's really good and i like your pics. glad someone is addressing this center city issue as in all the 29 years i've lived in plattsburgh noone nor any administration has had the spine to do so. keep it up. steve

Anonymous said...

Are the young people to blame? Yes, of course, but we must understand that their default setting somewhere between "idiot" & "criminal." That leaves the citizenry. Their apathy is the fuel of this anarchy. Apathy always gets what it deserves. You have to be the kind of thorn in the politician's sides that these self-serving gov't. leeches understand. They never see the light until they feel the heat (to quote Tip O'Neil).
Dr. K.