A steady increase in the number of Marist students living off campus is upsetting locals who say their peace and quiet is long gone, in part due to illegally overcrowded homes. YNN's John Wagner has the story.
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- Sue Lengyel moved to the Fairview neighborhood six years ago when only one nearby home was rented out to Marist students: now she's surrounded. Due to constant partying and noise all hours of the night she says she calls the cops at least three times a week.
"I would have never moved here if I knew it," said Lengyel. "I mean we have a baby, the baby gets woken up, we get woken up, we can't leave our windows open. They're very disrespectful loud and it's taken over the whole street. There's beer cans and bottles all over the ground, you know people urinating on our lawn."
A quiet, family friendly zone that just ten years ago rented out six off campus dwellings has transformed with more than seventy student houses. Besides their own quality of life issues, neighbors say they worry about students' safety. They say many appear to be housing more than the towns five person limit.
"Absentee landlords are converting living rooms and dining rooms to bedrooms, attics and basements, at times even garages," said concerned Poughkeepsie resident Virginia Buechele.
"Up until last January, people might have excused it as a couple college kids doing just this or that and then three people die," said Poughkeepsie resident John Daniels, referring to the 2012 fire that killed three off-campus Marist students. "And then all of a sudden people say oh my god, how did that happen?"
Town of Poughkeepsie officials plan to vote Wednesday to rework the vague wording of their current law to make it enforceable. In October, they will vote on whether or not to increase noise violation penalties for renters and add fines for the landlords after their tenants second offense. Some say more is needed, like annual inspections and a registration of tenants.
"It's not only a danger to the people living in these houses, but it's a danger to our firefighters when they go into these buildings and come up against walls that are not known to be there," said Buechele, who believes if safety issues are focused on, many of the quality of life issues will be fixed at the same time.
Marist says that out of around 4,200 undergrads about 600 live off campus. While enrollment has grown over the past decade, short term plans are to hold those numbers steady and Marist is hoping to provide more housing of their own.
"People live off campus to save money or they think they can party more," said Marist College student Laura Daneczko. "They don't have to worry about RA's and security, but they forget that the police are also going to be checking up on them."
Whether it be for student safety, or peace and quiet, locals say it's past time for the law to not only be updated, but enforced.
"I just don't think they give two hoots about the community and taxpayers," said Lengyel.
Marist says that out of around 4,200 undergrads, about 600 live off campus. While enrollment has grown over the past decade, short-term plans are to hold those numbers steady. The college is hoping to provide more housing of their own.