Student-Logan city interaction increasing
Students were invited Monday outside the Taggart Student Center Auditorium to locate areas of concern on maps of Logan and describe the problem to Logan city officials.
Large zoomed-in maps with an aerial satellite view of neighborhoods surrounding USU were laid on three tables with several post-it notes stuck in various locations.
Sponsored by the USU Government Relations Council and Logan city, a USU neighborhood meeting was held where students had the opportunity to interact with officials involved in community development.
“We want them to trust us,” said James Olson, Community Development Block Grant coordinator at Logan city and a liaison to the Neighborhood Council. “We want opportunities to have the students and the other residents to work together. We want to support you guys in educational pursuits, too.”
Winter parking, noise ordinances, the number of occupants allowed in a home and dangerous intersections were all student concerns voiced to the city on Monday.
Previously, USU had a student representative on the Neighborhood Council, a group consisting of one person representing each neighborhood in Logan. The council meets monthly and holds neighborhood meetings several times a year. Because of poor attendance at monthly meetings and lack of communication, the position was taken away.
The city replaced the position with a staff member instead — Dennis Kohler, director of the Academic Resource Center. Kohler is part of a team including him and two students, newly elected Student Advocate Vice President Casey Saxton and GRC member Andy Pierucci.
“All I know is that through the Neighborhood Council and Dennis and Andy and Casey, we’re far more interested in getting out and talking to the students,” Olson said. “Kind of working on the ground level and saying, ‘OK, what’s your concerns? Let us know what’s going on, because then we can make everyone’s experience better in Logan.’”
Olson is excited about the increased communication and attendance of meetings. He said he can’t be aware of what students care about unless they voice concerns.
“We’re not really aware at City Hall what’s going on up the hill,” Olson said. “I don’t know what four-way stop is a hassle and you’ve almost been hit on your bike 12 times. We don’t know that.”
He probed students to share their thoughts about the winter parking ordinance restricting parking on city streets between the hours of 1-6 a.m.
“In the Neighborhood Council, this has been a topic of discussion where they’ve got together and said, ‘Well, is this ordinance fulfilling the purposes that we hope it is?’” Olson said. “And the answer is, some people say ‘yes,’ some people say ‘no.’ And we’re really interested in finding out what Utah State students think ... Your neighborhoods are the ones most affected by it.”
Saxton said the apartment complex he lives at provides a parking space for each student, but sometimes they’re filled up by other cars. Several other students spoke up to agree with his comment.
“I think it’s a really good idea where you rotate every other day,” Saxton said. “Park on one side of the road so at least every other day the snow is being cleared on the side of the road.”
A representative from Logan City Police also asked students about concerns they had.
Before Olson spoke to students, Capt. Curtis Hooley from the Logan City Police Department identified a few areas of interest in student neighborhoods — house parties, underage consumption of alcohol, burglaries, peeping toms and sexual offenses.
“It’s the responsibility of each one of us to do what we can to help, at least, reduce the chances of being a victim of a crime,” he said.
He mentioned house parties always having the potential to be a nuisance and reminded students to be good neighbors, but put more emphasis on burglaries and sex crimes.
He said auto burglaries are common in Logan, and most of the time, it’s when a vehicle is left unlocked. He warned students to lock up cars and houses and hide valuable items like laptops, cell phones, game consoles and expensive calculators.
Having worked on sex crime cases for five years with Logan city, Hooley said alcohol is almost always involved in a sexual offense case.
“One of the things that I always try to say is that if you’re going to go a party and you’re going to consume alcohol, providing at least hopefully that you’re 21, make sure you have somebody that’s watching over you that you trust,” he said. “Not somebody that’s going to go to the party with you and then leave and leave you vulnerable.”
He said students who have ground-floor apartments are more susceptible to peeping toms. He suggested looking inside apartment windows to observe what’s visible when blinds are turned up or down.
“If it was a perfect world, you could do all those things and never have to worry about becoming a victim,” Hooley said. “But we don’t live in a perfect world.”
Neighborhood Council meetings with all the representatives are held at 5:30 p.m. the third Thursday of almost every month at City Hall, 290 S. 100 West. Olson encouraged students to attend.
“I always tell students, ‘You’ve got a friend at City Hall,’” he said.
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