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Mastropetre: QU a ‘lousy neighbor’
Town of Hamden zoning meeting addresses QU housing
The increase in off-campus housing, due to an increased student population, has left some Hamden residents frustrated, encouraging the Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission to want to delay construction not related to building more residence halls on campus.
The Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission met on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. in the Thorton Wilder Hall of Fame in the Hamden Public Library where they discussed the annual review of the university’s enrollment, housing and parking plan.
Bernard Pellegrino, an attorney representing the university, said the university wants to build more housing desirable to seniors to decrease the number of students living off campus.
“It makes sense for the community, but it also makes internal sense for the university in a number of different ways,” Pellegrino said. “We are looking at incentives, financial incentives to capture and retain students to keep them on campus and crunching the numbers we believe that those financial incentives can be offered.”
In the 2007-2008 academic year, the university had an enrollment of 5,400. Hamden residents opposed 1,925 of these students.
When the York Hill campus was created in 2009, the residents were happy to see that roughly 1,215 of those students living off campus were now residing in beds provided by the university.
Vice President of Facilities and Capital Planning, Salvatore Filardi said the university knows it has to make residence halls more appealing to upperclassmen on York Hill.
“Seniors want air conditioning, they want singles and they want to be close to parking so that they don’t have to trek to get to their cars,” Filardi said. “We know all that and we can build all that for them at York Hill. What that does is it frees up current senior housing and makes it available to juniors.”
The commission explained it has three fundamental issues with what the university is doing: it is unhappy with the amount of beds provided on campus, the number of students enrolled at the university and the policies the university has adopted to ensure that all the beds are filled.
“Number one and two seemed to be independent of each other,” said Dan Kops, the assistant town planner. “That enrollment is driven by those concerned with enrollment and the provision of beds is driven by facilities management. And it’s clear that the policies to get students to occupy these unutilized beds aren’t working.”
The commission proposed the university provide it with a detailed plan of the number of vacant and occupied beds broken down by class and building. The commission also wants to know the amount of university housing versus off-campus housing.
Kops and member of the Planning and Zoning Commission Michele Mastropetre want to impose a moratorium on the university which would prevent Quinnipiac from working on construction not related to increasing student beds or construction that would boost enrollment.
Mastropetre described the off-campus parties of two weekends ago “appalling.”
“Quinnipiac in my opinion is a lousy neighbor,” Mastropetre said. “There’s a lot of little issues going around town and I think that if we made, instead of giving people financial incentives, if we made the housing something that kids want to live in they would live there.”
Mastropetre wants the university to require students to live on campus.
“There’s got to be something that you can do because this has got to stop,” she said. “You’re proposing that you’re going to be building more beds, but you can’t fill the beds that are there.”
Hamden resident Gail Traester said students are “caught in the middle” and the university should not over accept students.
“It’s just a vicious cycle,” Traester said. “They’ll over-accept, need more dorms. Over-accept, need more dorms.”
Traester also feels students should be required to live on campus.
“The students are here four years,” Traester said. “The residents, most of them, are here for life and I think the first concern is for the residents.”
However, Hamden resident Cindy Civitello said she does not have a problem with students.
“I think they’re really good students,” Civitello said. “I think just like anywhere when there’s a whole group of them and they start getting out of hand. That’s what happened at all the parties.”
Pellegrino said when more students are living off campus, there can be more problems.
“I think when we look at the vast majority of students who are off campus, there are not problems,” Pellegrino said. “The students are working well within the neighborhoods. They are doing good things and especially in certain locations, there’s never an issue, but certainly in other locations there are issues with students living side by side neighbors.”
The Planning and Zoning Commission did not make any decisions regarding the university and motioned to table the discussion until its Dec. 10 meeting.