Residents raise concerns about college parties

John Oberlin

Kent locals complain of violence, vandalism

Nearly 20 residents spoke to Kent City Council on the safety and health issues stemming from house parties around the university area and the south side of the city.

Residents voiced concerns for their children who are exposed to foul language and partiers who urinate, vomit and pass out on their property.

Council suggested a number of ways to address the noise, litter, violence, vandalism and general disruptive atmosphere large parties breed.

Kent Police Chief James Peach said neighborhoods need better communication, and the formation of neighborhood watch groups, even if watching from their homes, will help solve problems.

Residents have been verbally and physically assaulted when confronting the partiers. Peach said these parties are being carried out with increased hostility and maliciousness than in the past.

Councilwoman Beth Oswitch and Councilman Ed Bargerstock said residents are now afraid to confront party hosts. Bargerstock said a number of residents feel their only choice is to move away.

“Boarding houses are becoming like unlicensed bars,” he said.

Peach said Kent does not need to make more ordinances, and the police department needs an estimated 12 more officers, which would put two or three more on each shift.

He also said people need to be willing to change their behaviors in order to truly fix the problem.

“The city can’t legislate the quality of life,” he said.

Another issue associated with the house parties is the trash that comes with them – such as beer cans, cups or burned furniture.

Health department commissioner John Ferlito personally visits nuisance properties on Saturday and Sunday mornings and asks residents to clean up after their parties.

Ferlito said neighbors of party houses must complain to the health department so that it can address the situation.

“I’m trying to raise a family and work here,” said Jim Plicka, who lives with his wife and 2-year-old daughter next to a house that has regular parties. “I’m tired of being afraid of living in my own house.”

Contact public affairs reporter John Oberlin [email protected].