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City and College Leaders Pledge to Work Together to Improve Quality of Life Issues

PLATTSBURGH, NY __ John Ettling, president of the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh, told reporters and interested citizens at a news conference at Plattsburgh City Hall today that education, enforcement, and accountability will be essential if the recommendations of the Plattsburgh City-College Commission to improve the quality of life for residents of the center city are to be successful.

Dr. Edward Miller discusses the Commission recommendation as President John Ettling looks on.

Plattsburgh Mayor Donald Kasprzak and Ettling had high praise for the work of the Commission. "The report contains a series of realistic, affordable, and practical recommendation to improve the relationship between the City of Plattsburgh and the College," Ettling said.

Kasprzak declared that, "This report is a big, important step" to improving town-gown relations. In addition, he noted, "This report is not going to sit on a shelf and get dusty," but will be thoroughly reviewed by the Common Council and respective department heads.

Dr. Edward Miller, chair of the Commission and a professor of chemistry at SUNY Plattsburgh, thanked the members of the Commission and all those who participated in the process including residents, business owners, landlords, and College and City officials. He noted that as the Commission began its work in early April, the members quickly realized the importance of "coming together to have the conversation."

President Ettling echoed Miller’s comments about the Commission’s effort to be inclusive. "Everyone was afforded an opportunity to make their views known to the Commission. All of the recommendations in the report can be put in one of three categories: enforcement, education, and accountability," he said.

Miller noted that town-gown relations are a serious issue in many communities across the country, and the Commission was able to look at "best practices" and examples of successful efforts elsewhere.

He presented an overview of the Commission’s 39 proposals, which will now be considered by leaders of the City and the College. They include:

  • The adoption of revisions to city codes including the City Noise Ordinance and the Definition of Family found in the current City zoning rules. In addition, the commission recommends adoption of new ordinances related to "nuisance properties" and an ordinance for civil host liability which would hold accountable individuals who host social gatherings where underage drinking occurs.
  • The creation of Alternate Sentencing Options that provide a framework for a restorative justice approach to quality of life infractions.
  • Planning and execution of stings at local bars and house parties.
  • The College lowering its Nexus threshold to include, not only the prosecution of those students charged with felonies, but also those charged with misdemeanors under the Student Code of Conduct.
  • Regulating athletic teams at the College under the Student Conduct Code for Clubs and Organizations.
  • The creation of an Alcohol and Drug Educator and a Coordinator for City-College Affairs.
  • The creation of a student-driven standing committee on Campus-Community Relations.
  • That all enforcement agents become more proactive and pursue a zero-tolerance policy with respect to violations of any City Code and that the Judiciary assigns full measure of penalties for violations.

The Mayor said that the City will focus first on those recommendations over which they have direct control. President Ettling echoed the Mayor’s comments. "The recommendations that fall exclusively in the purview of the College are do-able."

One key recommendation in the report is to enhance drug and alcohol awareness and education with students. The focus on education is key, according to Ettling, because "education is our business."

He added, "What concerns us the most is that the image of the Plattsburgh State student that many citizens have is based on the misbehavior of a handful of students. I spend most of my life on the campus with 6,000 students that are terrific citizens."

The full report, including appendices, is available online at www.plattsburgh.edu/president/pccc.

Ettling and Kasprzak announced the launch of the Commission April 4, and at that time, expressed their hope that the resulting recommendations would identify ways in which the City and College could build upon a positive relationship and find creative solutions to the issues.

Both Ettling and Kasprzak said they were pleased with the effort that went into the report by the members of the Commission and those who participated in the many meetings during the three months of work.

The Commission was made up of nine individuals representing the College and the City.

Individuals appointed by Mayor Kasprzak to the commission included:

  • Susan Levaque, City resident and former leader of FAIR
  • Karen Larkin - Center City resident, downtown business owner and SUNY Plattsburgh faculty member
  • Nancy Monette - City resident and co-chair of Campus Community Partnership
  • William Provost - City Councilor (Ward 6)

College representatives appointed by President Ettling included:

  • Alyssa Amyotte - Graduate student and student member of the SUNY Board of Trustees
  • William Laundry - Vice President for Student Affairs and co-chair of Campus Community Partnership
  • Stephen Matthews - Dean of Students
  • Allison Swick-Duttine - Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life

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