Vas Mathur / Sun Staff Photographer

College town Neighborhood Council meets Tuesday night to discuss noise complaints and safety concerns with Cornell students.

September 26, 2017

Despite Noise Complaints, Cornellians and Ithacans Find Common Ground at Meeting

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Members of the Collegetown Neighborhood Council responded to Collegetown residents’ safety and noise concerns and attempted to contrive solutions at a meeting Tuesday.

The council has seen ongoing issues with trash dumping, noise complaints, parties and underage drinking — but one of the foremost problems, according to South Hill resident John Graves, has been the noise from students commuting from Ithaca College’s main campus to the Ithaca Commons, especially on weekends.

“The house parties are one thing,” Graves said. “But the underclassmen are walking down in unbelievable populations — thousands of kids. It’s very, very loud.”

Common Council member Graham Kerslick said such issues are an inevitable consequence of the city’s commitment to mixed development.

“We do want these mixed communities,” Kerslick said. “We don’t really want people segregated into students here, homeowners here, rich people here, poor people here. It’s part of the city’s plan to have these mixed neighborhoods.”

But large numbers of students living on campus commuting to apartments in Collegetown, particularly underclassmen, have been accompanied by serious vandalism, according to Graves.

CUPD Lieutenant Rich Gourley says police wrote 104 tickets at one party last summer.

Vas Mathur / Sun Staff Photographer

CUPD Lieutenant Rich Gourley says police wrote 104 tickets at one party last summer.

Though Cornell University Police Department has continued its efforts to reduce these transgressions, there is no end near in sight, said CUPD Lieutenant Rich Gourley.

“Last summer, [Ithaca Police Department] wrote 104 tickets at one party,” Gourley said. “Two days later, there was another party at the same residence.”

Students present suggested that continued problems may arise from lack of awareness about Collegetown as a permanent residence for families and Ithaca inhabitants.

“A lot of students don’t come to college thinking ‘I’m going to Ithaca’, they think ‘I’m going to Cornell,’” Nate Revor ’20 said. “It might sound weird, but we need to raise awareness that there are people here.”

One effort dedicated to promoting that awareness is Home Plate, a program organized by the Student Assembly’s City and Local Affairs Committee. S.A. members from this committee spoke at Tuesday’s meeting to present this program and offer solutions to the disconnect between college students and Ithaca residents.

Through the Home Plate program, Cornell students are matched with Collegetown families. Through facilitating students joining the families at mealtime at their home periodically during the semester, the program aims to foster connection and greater understanding between the two groups.

This program aims to remind Cornell students that the Ithaca community is comprised of more members than college students. Such awareness could address problems such as noise complaints and safety concerns in the future.

“It’s one simple way to get students and community members at the same table,” said Julia Greenberg ’18, chair of the committee. “Though the students are temporary, the program is permanent.”

Despite these ongoing disputes, issues between residents and students do not seem to be escalating.

“The amount of calls is slightly elevated from last year,” Gourley said. “But not so much as to make an anomaly.”

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Cornell Police Sergeant Rich Gourley said CUPD wrote 104 tickets at a party last summer. In fact, Gourley is a Lieutenant, and Ithaca Police Department wrote the tickets at the party. Also, a previous version said that the noise from students commuting from Cornell’s main campus to Collegetown was a foremost problem, according to Graves. In fact, he was referring to students commuting from Ithaca College.