NIAGARA FALLS – Back-to-school can mean back to the same old problems for residents in Niagara Falls who deal with Niagara University students living in off-campus housing.
Bad behavior, drinking, littering, parties and parking issues are all problems the residents want addressed.
City Councilman Kenneth Tompkins and Police Superintendent E. Bryan DalPorto met with the concerned residents at the Deveaux neighborhood block club on Sunday to talk about them.
Tompkins, a Deveaux resident, said problems stemming from students living off campus are not easily fixed.
It’s not just their behavior. There are also code violations at their residences, Tompkins said.
Small houses off Lafayette Avenue, which were meant to be single-family homes, are being bought cheaply and used to house four or five students, he said. When each student has a car, that leads to parking issues in the neighborhood.
Complaints about parties and drinking can be difficult for police to resolve, he said.
“Residents are complaining about Solo cups laying around in the yards. It’s not illegal,” he said, referring to the red plastic cups often used at keg parties.
“There is something in Niagara Falls called a nuisance ordinance, but it is based on a point system. Every time they get a call they get assessed points, You have to get to 17 points,” said Tompkins. “The problem is that students are only there for nine months.”
Tompkins said Niagara University did not send a representative to the latest meeting, but has sent someone to previous meetings and been a good partner with the City of Niagara Falls. He also pointed out that some students have attended previous meetings and told residents that a few bad apples are responsible for most of the problems.
Niagara University issued a statement on Monday pledging to work with the neighbors and continue their partnership with Niagara Falls Police.
“Niagara, through its student code of conduct, will take action against individual students and student groups who act inappropriately. This may include fines, community service and possible suspension form university activities,” according to the university statement.
The university also said in its statement that it will be “proactive with communications to off-campus students through correspondence, meetings, and student housing visits by university officials.”
It also promised to work with community leaders on student service initiatives, such as community clean-ups on streets affected by negative student behaviors.
Tompkins wants to meet with the city Law Department to explore some code enforcement solutions, he said.
Student orientation starts Sept. 3 at Niagara University.