Search for neighborhood liaison underway; 129 applications received

Kelly Byer

Officials hope to fill position by early April

A more cohesive community is at the core of the new plan for a neighborhood liaison between Kent State and the city.

Ann Gosky, chair of the search committee, said 129 applications were received for the position, which was advertised in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Akron Beacon Journal and the Record-Courier. ??

Gosky said an undergraduate student representative is one of the eight members of the search committee, and students were also consulted in the decision to create a liaison. ??

The committee met for the first time Feb. 8, and Dean of Students Greg Jarvie said he hopes to have chosen a candidate by early April. ??

“I am looking for someone that’s got some energy, that I would consider a self-starter, someone that has a real interest in expertise and communication,” Jarvie said. “It’s real critical that this person really is someone that can obviously communicate between individuals as well as groups of people.”??

The university is responsible for the hiring, and Jarvie and Community Development Director Gary Locke will be the primary supervisors. The liaison will be jointly funded by the city and university at an estimated cost of $20,000 each for an initial two years.

While the liaison would mostly do field work, going door-to-door, Jarvie said an office will be located in the Student Center.

“This individual could be anywhere in the city,” Jarvie said, adding that areas most likely to be focused on will be north of Main Street, around North Lincoln Street, University Drive and Sherman Street. ??

Other student neighborhoods such as East College Avenue could be under the liaison’s supervision as well.

“We’d like to see this person be able to communicate and develop lines of communication with some of the students and some of the student groups kind of talk about what kind of responsibilities that everyone has, whether it be students or non-students,’” Locke said.

The liaison would be active in neighborhoods around campus, possibly developing informational pamphlets about the responsibilities that come with living in a community. Locke said these would be given to new Kent State students or those moving off campus, and the liaison would also be someone people can go to when they would like to resolve an issue non-confrontationally. ??

“If somebody does something illegal or in violation of law, they’re going to have the same consequences they would have now, but where I think the liaison position could come in is to try and deal with some of the issues before they get to that point,” he said. ??

A resident of North Lincoln Street, Heather Horschler, has lived in Kent for three years and graduated from Kent State last year. She said she wasn’t aware of plans to implement a liaison and doesn’t think one is needed. ??

“This is actually a quieter street,” she said. “Everyone’s friends with everyone.”??

But Craig Burgess, whose family is originally from Kent, has been a resident of University Drive for three years and said he thinks there is a need. ??

Throughout his time on University Drive, Burgess said he’s had problems with people in his yard, trash not being picked up and beer bottles being thrown in his yard and left in the street. ??

“They should remember that they’re here for an education,” he said.

Although Burgess said only a small portion of the students cause problems, he has spoken to Jarvie and the Kent Police about issues before. He has also gone door-to-door to talk to students on his own, which, he said, seemed to be effective.?

“I don’t want another College street fiasco happening on University Drive,” he said. ??

But as long as everyone acts responsibly, Burgess said he doesn’t mind the parties. ??

“I can party as hard as they can, I just don’t get in fights,” he said.

Another University Drive resident, Jackson McGreevy, said he saw trash left out this past fall but hasn’t heard of any neighborhood issues since then.

This is the first year the sophomore flight technology major has lived on University Drive, but McGreevy said he thinks the community could benefit from a liaison.

“I think it would be a good idea to keep the relationship between the city and university good,” he said. ??

Jarvie said the liaison position has been considered for years and originated from the Neighborhood Enrichment program, which aims to improve the quality of life in Kent.

“There’s been a need for a long time, and we just finally have been able to really kind of put the resources together and the commitment from the city and university to get this thing done,” he said.

The position has the potential to improve university retention and quality of life in the community, Jarvie said.

“You talk about what I would consider a true student retention opportunity,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that this is about keeping students here at Kent State and really, in some ways, of protection of them, to make them understand that there’s certain things you just can’t do. It doesn’t matter what community you live in.”

Contact public affairs reporter Kelly Byer at [email protected].