Lindenwood University-Belleville leaders got an earful of comments Wednesday night in the town hall meeting that aldermen required them to hold.
About 30 people spoke and most of them praised the school for taking over the old Belleville West High School campus while some questions were raised about security.
The meeting was at the Union Elementary School cafeteria, which was filled with about 200 people.
We like knowing when we’re hitting the mark and we like knowing what we need to do to improve and get better.
Angela Wingo-Rust, dean of students for Lindenwood University-Belleville
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Last fall, after residents had attended five consecutive City Council meetings to air complaints about students in their neighborhood, aldermen required Lindenwood officials to have an annual, end-of-school town hall meeting with city staff and area residents to identify concerns “well before” the fall semester begins.
The requirement to hold the meeting was one of the conditions aldermen attached to their approval of Lindenwood’s request for special-use permits for students to live in over 50 homes and apartment buildings purchased by Lindenwood.
The speakers were limited to two minutes, and at one point the moderator, retired Belleville school administrator Lynn Clapp, took the microphone from Noah Bruemmer, who was asking about the school’s security force. Bruemmer, who lives next to Lindenwood students on West A Street, agreed he would talk to Lindenwood’s dean of students, Angela Wingo-Rust, after the meeting.
Bruemmer did meet with Wingo-Rust for several minutes as the crowd filed out.
He said he was able to discuss some specific concerns with Wingo-Rust, including the issue of college students crossing Union School property during school hours. The elementary school at 20 S. 27th St. is adjacent to Lindenwood.
But he said the meeting’s format was not the best way to handle the quality of life issues raised since last fall by residents who live near the campus.
“I can’t get any of these things cleared up if I don’t have the forum to do it and if the forum is going to be as politicized and overtaken as it was tonight, then it’s not really going to be helpful,” Bruemmer said after he met with Wingo-Rust.
I can’t get any of these things cleared up if I don’t have the forum to do it and if the forum is going to be as politicized and overtaken as it was tonight, then it’s not really going to be helpful.
Noah Bruemmer, who lives near Lindenwood students
One of the speakers, Tom Ripperda, addressed people who have complained about Lindenwood students and said he would gladly bring his truck by to help them move out.
Jamie Williams, who lives on West A Street near Bruemmer, previously told the BND that he initially didn’t like the idea of students moving into his neighborhood but changed his mind after talking with them.
At the town hall meeting, he said residents who have complained about the students “should take time to get to know them.”
Wingo-Rust said she was “very appreciative of the people that came out to not only share their concerns but to share their compliments.
“We like knowing when we’re hitting the mark and we like knowing what we need to do to improve and get better.”
For Gene Behrmann, whose daughter lives next to Lindenwood students, the town hall meeting was not best format for the residents with concerns. He would like Lindenwood hold a meeting where residents can sit down and have an extended dialogue with school officials about issues such as late night noise and traffic. He said he would talk to some aldermen about having meeting that’s not as formal as the town hall setting used Wednesday night.
“What can the university do to assure the residents that things are going to get better?” he asked.
How to contact Lindenwood security
- Angela Wingo-Rust, the dean of students for Lindenwood University-Belleville, said residents who want to contact the security department can call two cellphone numbers used by security officers: 618-978-9797 or 618-978-7253.
- If you want to email comments or questions, you can reach Wingo-Rust at firstname.lastname@example.org