Good Neighbor Addresses Community Safety

Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.

After the Oct. 5 sexual assault on Plattekill Avenue, SUNY New Paltz, the University Police Department, the New Paltz Police Department and both the Town and Village of New Paltz are collaborating on a “Good Neighbor Initiative.”

The Good Neighbor Initiative aims to address the issues of  noise, lighting on Plattekill Avenue and other residential streets and security. It promotes an ongoing partnership between the college and community, a press release from the school said.

So far, both UPD and the New Paltz Police have increased patrols around Plattekill Avenue during the evening hours in order to increase the area’s safety. Since the time of the first assault nearly a month ago, there have been no reported incidents in the area.

At a “town and gown” meeting after the Plattekill assault, community and University leaders addressed the issue of  additional lighting on Plattekill, as a means of increasing security in that area. At a recent debate, town supervisor candidate Randall Leverette said he believes both the university and the local community could share the cost of additional lighting.

“I would like […] to cost-share some of these things,” Leverette said. “The students here are a responsibility of the college and are partly residents of the town, so I think these are things we can share.”

Town Supervisor Susan Zimet disgreed, however, and said that “governments have to take responsibility for themselves.”

“I can’t speak for the lights in the village, but the lights in the town are $22,000 a year. That isn’t a lot of money,” Zimet said. “The reality is, there’s a part of the road that is Platekill, that’s in the village and that is the village’s responsibility. It’s their obligation, and they should pay for it. There’s part of the road that is the college’s, and another part that is the village’s.”

SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian said the majority of lights along Plattekill Avenue are on the campus side of the street.

“If you walk along Plattekill at night, I think there are nine or 10 lights on the campus side. Almost none or a few on the far side, the village side,” Christian said. “That prompted some conversations that our folks have been involved in about what the village could do to increase lighting on that side of Plattekill Avenue that would create a safer environment, not just for SUNY New Paltz students but for parents and families and kids living here in the community as well.”

The initiative also brought up the issue of noise in the town and village during the nighttime hours. The New Paltz Village Board has tried in the past to pass a noise ordinance to minimize the amount of noise during those hours in the past. The most recent attempt to pass a noise ordinance was in 2011.

Christian said this is not the first time local officials have asked the college to look at the issue of noise control among students during the evening hours. He said this has been a concern from the community for the past “seven or eight years.”

“There was some sense in the community that the college should be doing something to control the noise by students coming to and from campus after the bars close or leaving the taverns and going to off-campus apartments,” Christian said. “But the village couldn’t, or hadn’t, approved a noise ordinance — and still hasn’t. So, you know, we were sort of being asked to do something there that the village wasn’t even willing to help, or hadn’t been able to, create the infrastructure for us to do in the form of a noise ordinance.”

As of right now, UPD, the town and village, the New Paltz Police and SUNY New Paltz are still looking at options to include enforcable noise control issues in the village and town.