McKivor: Progress in campus-area neighborhoods isn’t all bad

In the Aug. 1edition of the ODE, Deborah Bloom wrote an excellent article detailing the concerns of residents living in the neighborhoods close to campus, mainly noise and new construction. With increasing masses of students flooding the area every September, I can understand their frustration. I lived on East 14th Avenue and Alder Street across from Pegasus Pizza for two years and hated it. Students are loud, travel in hordes and, let’s face it, are often belligerently intoxicated on any given weekend.

On top of this, new apartment complexes are going up like weeds in response to the University’s growing student population, which hit a record 23,000-plus this past academic year. The University has been successfully growing for the past 10 years, seeing an increase in students and staff by upward of 25 percent — however, dorm space has fallen short for the past three years, necessitating new construction. In Bloom’s article, many citizens complained about the noise and that these modern apartment buildings do not fit in with the character of the neighborhood. Change can be bothersome to those who already have roots in the neighborhood, but on both accounts, get over it.

Students should have more respect for the people living in these neighborhoods, without a doubt. There is no reason why people should have to wake up to beer cans on their lawn. Although I can see the frustration students cause the local population’s property, I fail to see why people are surprised this is happening. Young people are going to want to go out, and more often than not, dabble in drink and what have you. This is something that anyone moving close to a university, with the possible exception of George Fox, should expect.

Where do the residents of the outlying neighborhoods expect the students to go, the South Hills? They are going to settle close to campus, where it is convenient to study, work, eat and play. That begs the question: Why would people move to the campus area and complain about students moving in? Were they somehow short-sighted and naive enough to not expect the University to grow?

This same formula has repeated itself in city after city across the country and it’s a good thing, depending on your point of view. When enrollment in a university goes up, more people need to be accommodated.

Seattle is a perfect example. From the 1940s through the 1960s, the expansion of the University of Washington’s campus and student body virtually swallowed antiquated neighborhoods in the hills above Lake Washington, but for the greater good. Now these areas (take University Avenue and 45th Street, for instance) are thriving socially and economically, and have contributed to the growth of the city over the last half-century.

The same thing can be expected in Eugene, which has been playing at being a city for a while now, but is really still just another small town. Students bring commerce in all different manners. Students, Millennials in particular, are going to go out to shop around town, eat out at restaurants and drink at bars more. All these activities create revenue for businesses, which in turn stimulates the local economy. That’s something this town desperately needs because, if you haven’t noticed, we are in the middle of a massive recession.

Speaking of commerce, those new apartment buildings aren’t going up for free. All these new building projects are creating long-term construction jobs that are lucrative for the contractors and the city alike, and will house hundreds of loyal consumers. The renovations and expansions being performed on many of the buildings on campus are creating jobs as well, not just for construction workers, but University staff, enhancing Eugene’s academic worth.

This is hard to accept for many of the people living around campus who just want a quiet, quaint small-town atmosphere. But I say to them, let the University flourish, and Eugene grow into the city it is already on its way to becoming. Embrace progress or move to Roseburg.

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