Friday, March 07, 2008
Comments & Impressions
Comments ranging from heartfelt to dumb were heard at Thursday night’s Common Council event.
Before the regular meeting, a public hearing was held regarding proposed changes in the Plattsburgh City Code to address problems with student housing and behavior (see previous post). Combat Zone (Center City) residents and landlords offered feedback.
Louis LeVaque, a well-spoken older gentleman, needed a bit of time to get up and take the podium. (I’ve had days like that with my bad back.) He didn’t let the extra effort stop him from sharing what was on his mind.
Louis talked about the need for more enforcement, for more tickets issued, in his neighborhood. He also mentioned how property values were being affected by the presence of sub-standard student housing and chronic problems such as noise and vandalism. He didn’t want to see the value of his house drop by thousands of dollars.
One can imagine his situation. He’s worked hard, bought a home, but now his neighborhood is going to crap. How can he enjoy his retirement? He favored the proposed code changes.
On the opposing side, landlord Ed Champagne said that the college was passing on the “onus” of uncontrolled students to the property owners. Why should landlords be responsible for changes proposed by Plattsburgh State?
Later on someone corrected this misstatement. The Combat Zone residents, not the college, initiated the formation of the Plattsburgh City–College Commission. The college wasn’t trying to dump a problem on the landlords.
I think Champagne should sit in a meeting of the Plattsburgh Campus and Community Partnership, a coalition of projects that actively deal with community problems. If anything, the city has been shirking its responsibility by not making some landlords accountable for the CZ decay. That’s put the “onus” on the residents, not the absentee landlords.
Champagne was against the provision requiring landlords to register all tenants, an effort to keep track of how many students were living in a building. He made a funnee: “How are we landlords going to keep track of our tenants? DNA testing?”
Ha, ha. Champagne ran for a city councilor position in the last election. He lost. So his helpful humor isn’t part of the Common Council mix.
Plattsburgh dodged a bullet.
During the regular council meeting, Councilor James Calnon suggested a review of the proposals with municipal department heads.
Uh, didn’t the City-College Commission already do that?
Calnon indicated another committee was needed to re-review the Commission’s report. (Like they say, a platypus is an eagle designed by a committee.)
Mayor Donald Kasprzak said he wanted to act on the proposals as soon as possible. He was hearing too many complaints from his constituents.
It reminded me of former President Bill Clinton’s quote: “I feel your pain.” Apparently if the Mayor keeps feeling the pain, it will lead to more action.
So keep those calls, emails, and letters pouring in. One key to the situation might be pain sharing.