Janesville69.6°

Neighborhoods oppose housing for UW-W students

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Carla McCann
November 30, 2007
— The expansion of university student housing is causing hardships to residential neighborhoods, said Dr. Roy Nosek, a member of the Whitewater City Council.

It’s an old problem that has spread beyond the central university area into all districts within the community.


Students often disrupt the normal routines, the quiet and aesthetic beauty of those neighborhoods, Nosek said.


They are parking illegally across sidewalks, hosting loud parties and failing to keep their lawns free of litter and trash.


Last year, several university students rented a house next door to Council President Marilyn Kienbaum.


One evening she was awakened by them yelling at their dog to hurry and go to the bathroom.


When she heard the dog yip, Kienbaum got up and went to scold her young neighbors, she said.


“I asked them if they could go to the bathroom while someone was yelling at them,” Kienbaum said.


She took care of the problem, Kienbaum said.


The city has two ordinances, however, that could help eliminate the student-housing problem.


One of the ordinances prohibits more than three unrelated people from living together in a house zoned for a single family, while the other ordinance prohibits more than two vehicles from being parked regularly in the driveways or in front of those homes.


“The trouble is in enforcing the ordinances,” Nosek said.


The student-housing dilemma has been compounded by the university’s five-year construction project that has included the razing of Baker and Salisbury residential halls to accommodate the new College of Business and Economics.


Two other residential halls, White and Sayles, are scheduled to be razed in 2008, the same year that construction will begin on a suite-style hall. But the new hall will not be completed until 2010.


Frank Bartlett, associate director of the university’s office of residence life, said the exact number of students living off campus because of the loss of on-campus housing is unknown.


“We started the semester with students living in lounges,” Bartlett said. “We’re tight for space, but we’re not to the point where there is no room at the inn.”


Older students often don’t want to have roommates, and single rooms are at a premium, Bartlett said.


The citywide advance of students into neighborhoods also has been aided by parents, who buy properties for their kids to occupy while they attend the university.


“They put their kids and three to four others in these homes,” Nosek said.


In addition, many of the older homes that could be sold to young families as starter homes are being bought for student housing. That has driven up the cost for such homes, he said.


“The pinch is being felt by a larger and larger segment of the community,” Nosek said.


Enrollment in the school district likely could be higher than it is if young families could afford to buy houses here, Nosek said.


“It’s going to take guts on the part of the city council to promote a resolution of this problem,” Nosek said.



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