By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
A partnership on the East Side of Bowling Green has seen success at cutting the number of nuisance parties.
As the East Side Residential Neighborhood Group celebrated its 10th annual meeting last week, the members also acknowledged that their efforts were having positive outcomes.
“One of our main concerns is trying to stop the deterioration of properties – and keep peace in the ‘hood,’” said Rose Hess, president of the neighborhood group.
Hess admitted that the organization spends a lot of time on those two issues. But they are seeing progress.
Last year, in the first few months of the fall semester at BGSU, the police responded to 22 complaints of nuisance parties. So far this fall, there have been six nuisance parties.
Last year, there were 70 total complaints of parties and offensive gestures or noise, compared to 55 this year.
“This year is down in numbers,” Hess said.
Hess credited the neighbors, the police and the landlords for creating a more peaceful East Side.
The East Side, next to BGSU, has a lower percentage of owner-occupied homes than the west side of the city. The numbers are close to 80 percent rentals and 20 percent owner-occupied in the areas bordered by Enterprise, North Main and Poe roads, and by Lehman, South Main and State streets.
And Hess admitted that their organization is a squeaky wheel.
“That’s what we’re known as – complainers,” she said.
But the group and its partners have managed to help create better neighbors out of the students – or make life miserable enough for them to move elsewhere.
“We don’t win big battles,” Hess said. “These are little skirmishes we feel are worth pursuing.”
The work starts as students arrive in Bowling Green. Members of the neighborhood group walked to 513 rental units to hand out flyers welcoming students to the community, and making them aware of city rules on such topics as garbage collection and cars parked on lawns.
“We make an attempt to tell the students what it means to be a good neighbor,” Hess said.
Neighborhood members also plan to attend the BGSU Housing Fair in November.
“Every student is great at 3 in the afternoon,” she said, noting it’s better to meet them then rather than 3 in the morning. “It’s an opportunity to connect.”
The East Side group has also been partnering with the Bowling Green Police Division. On Monday mornings, Chief Tony Hetrick makes the group aware of issues that officers had to respond to, and he calls landlords about weekend parties that get out of hand, Hess said.
“We write letters to the landlords and the tenants,” Hess said. One member of the group tracks nuisance issues in the neighborhood.
After two citations and two convictions, the city prosecuting attorney sets up an intervention program, where the student renters are confronted by officials from the police division, BGSU, the courts, the landlords and the neighbors, Hess said.
Unlike last year when there were four houses on South Summit Street that were “a nightmare” for local residents, there appear to not be any real problem rentals this year, she added.
It appears, Hess said, that local landlords have really cracked down on student misbehavior. “The key is getting the landlords involved,” she said.
Police Sgt. Scott Kleiber, a liaison officer with the East Side group, told residents at their meeting last week that their involvement makes a big difference.
“We want to be a partner with the community. Let us know what’s going on,” he said.
Kleiber agreed that the East Side seems a little more peaceful this semester. “I see things getting better,” he said.
Hess agreed. “You are out greatest ally,” she said of the police division.