University properties show signs of neglect, vandalism
DetailsCreated on Tuesday, 09 March 2010 04:35 Written by Regina Garcia Cano Hits: 949 Four out of seven unoccupied buildings Kent State owns in the neighborhood west of campus have broken windows, are unlocked or have other damages. The status of the properties, which include five houses, a former bar at 213 S. Depeyster St. and the former Record Courier offices at 206 E. Erie St., may have led to reported crimes. A criminal case report filed by the Kent Police Department on Oct. 11, 2009 describes an incident at 214 S. Willow St. as “Rape – substantially impair (sic) judgment.” The report stated the incident happened on the property’s yard. The case is still open. In addition to the vacant buildings, two empty lots and an occupied house are owned by the university in the same area of the city. Three more criminal case reports related to the properties have been called into Kent City Police. At least four incident reports have been filed where the crimes were not significant enough, nor were witnesses available to move the complaints to investigations of criminal activity. Dean Tondiglia, associate director of public safety of the Kent State Police Department, said when a crime is committed off campus at a university property, the local jurisdiction would respond on the case and the KSUPD will later be notified. Tondiglia confirmed his department was notified by the Kent Police Department on the Oct. 11, 2009 case. Tom Euclide, Kent State’s associate vice president for facilities planning and operations, said he had no knowledge of the incident. Euclide said the university is spending as little as possible on the buildings, but enough to keep them safe as Kent State plans future uses for them. “Plans are not definite,” Euclide said. “We are still working overall on the initiative of the $200 million investment in renovations to campus.” He said renovations could include furbishing some of the houses as student residences or staff offices, or demolishing some of the properties to extend the University Esplanade stretching downtown to cross state Route 59 at Erie Street. The final decision is still about two months away, near the school year’s end.
Conditions of the propertiesEuclide said after the houses became university property, they were locked if unoccupied, and windows were either screwed shut or boarded if broken. However, during an investigation by the Daily Kent Stater that included three visits to the properties, broken windows, open doors, litter and considerable amounts of snow were observed. An egg carton, three beer cans, Styrofoam plates and cups could be seen inside one room at 214 S. Willow St. There was graffiti in another room. The basement door was open and two windows were broken. The garage door was open and three of its windows were broken. A bottle of alcohol was at the garage’s entrance; plastic cups and building materials were inside. In a room at 220 S. Willow St., a beer carton, one beer bottle, several beer caps and a broken mirror were found. Two of the properties’ windows were broken. The garage door of 225 S. Willow St. was open. After being questioned on the current status of the houses, Euclide said a maintenance staff member would inspect the properties. But a week later, a reporter for the Daily Kent Stater visited the buildings and did not see any changes.
Community’s concernsMaintenance crews visit the houses regularly to plow snow, Euclide said, adding that if staff members observe any problems at the houses, they notify the Office of the University Architect. Euclide said he was notified of two break-ins that occurred during the Fall 2009 semester.
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