Being responsive to your community is important to maintaining a healthy relationship, so tonight Lindenwood University-Belleville is participating in the annual town hall meeting that city leaders are requiring. The meeting is 6:30 p.m. in the Union Elementary School cafeteria, 20 S. 27th St. in Belleville.
Some residents have complained about traffic, parking, loud music, parties, campfires and the other trappings of college life disturbing their neighborhoods. Lindenwood bought 54 houses and apartment buildings that put students next to longtime residents, some of whom appreciate the youths and some who vocally do not.
While the students may not be perfect angels, the former neighbors were worse. Belleville Police were called to the residential areas around Lindenwood 2,082 times in 2010 but only 1,058 as of Oct. 3 last year. Also, the university is boosting its own security force to monitor and protect students.
Lindenwood students are also out in Belleville regularly, volunteering and spending money at local businesses. There are a whole lot of positive interactions to counter-balance the frustrated student who suggested Diane Rogge and Ward 2 Alderman Mike Buettner “move” after the third time the couple called the fire department about students’ backyard campfire.
There is also no denying that Lindenwood is investing in the housing and it is in much better shape than when different owners were responsible for these properties. Complaints about gravel parking lots are being addressed by an aggressive paving program and sprinklers are being installed in the housing units.
As with any political issue, those “against” are often more motivated and vocal than those “for.” So it will be no surprise if tonight’s meeting is heavy on the complaints.
Those with something good to say about Lindenwood also should make the effort to turn out.
Complaints should be heeded and fixed as appropriate. Compliments are at least as important to give city leaders perspective and to let Lindenwood administrators know what bright spots they should foster.