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Continued: St. Paul colleges work to keep the peace with their neighbors

  • Article by: JEFF SHELMAN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 2, 2007 - 8:50 PM

Where problems arise

While alcohol and parties can fracture neighborhood relations, the problems don't all have to do with kegs on the porch, bottles in the yard and vomit on the sidewalk.

Hershey said many of the messages he gets on his voice mail -- some of which are emotional calls left at 2 a.m. -- have to do with noise.

"It's six or seven kids walking back from their friend's house and so what if it's 12:30 in the morning, they're just talking," Hershey said. "They're not even really being bad, but six kids make noise. Or they're sitting on the front porch because they're smoking and they can't smoke inside.

"Sometimes it's just a little thing. You and I have had a few beers and it's 2 a.m. and we're standing by my car and I'm about to drive off and we talk for a half-hour and it's noisy and we throw around the f-word a bunch because that's what college kids do sometimes. That's really pretty low-key in the scheme of things, but it is now April and you've had a litany of things that's bothered you since September and this is the straw that broke the camel's back."

There are certainly things people on both sides of the town vs. gown battle can do differently.

Students might want to ponder that the neighbor's fourth-grader has been in bed for hours when they get home from a night out on Grand Avenue. Residents might want to give their new rental neighbors the benefit of the doubt before deeming the students the next Animal House.

'User guide' for neighbors

Because of that, the West Summit Neighborhood Advisory Committee has put together a "User Guide for Neighborhood Relations" that is filled with information for both sides.

Because while the relationship can be rocky -- especially when schools expand their footprint into the surrounding neighborhoods -- colleges value their relationship with the neighbors.

"We want our neighbors to use our campus," Welna said. "We want them to teach their kids how to ride their bikes there or take the dog for a walk. We want them to use this little urban oasis.

"Part of my job is to remind everyone that as an institution, we are a citizen of this community and we have to act like that. It's not an us vs. them situation."

But at times, that's exactly what happens.

Said Hershey: "The thing kids say to me is 'Why didn't they talk to me?' Well that's human nature and that's why I have a job."

Jeff Shelman • 612-673-7478

Jeff Shelman • jshelman@startribune.com

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