Close to Home, Close to Campus
By: Ben Christensen
Residents of the Fairmount neighborhood seem to only have two things on their minds these days as the students of the University of Oregon complete their spring midterm exams: house parties and the new basketball arena. Upon first glance one might think that one problem would outweigh the other, and in this circumstance nothing could be further from the truth; however, it’s not the house parties that seem to causing much of a fuss.
Since the university broke ground for their new, state of the art basketball court, Matthew Knight Arena, back in February of this year, very few complaints had been processed by home owners and student renters.
“We’re not against the school building a new arena,” says Fairmount Neighborhood Association Co-Chair Shellie Robertson. “We just want the university to adhere to the land use codes as any other business would.”
The issue that has been brought up by the FNA is broken up into two parts; the first being that of the university not adequately giving the nearby residents of the new facility located on Franklin Boulevard enough knowledge of their procedure. As the university made plans for their new arena they first acquired the land of local businesses such as the 7-11 convenience store which sat on the corner of Villard Street and the Williams Bakery which sat next to the freshmen dorms. With these acquisitions, as well as the former student/faculty parking area on Agate Street, the university now had the proper space for their new facility. It is here that the residents were not informed of universities desire to purchase the areas.
“The university is allowed to just add new facilities and take over surrounding areas with very little debate, and that’s what we don’t find to be very fair,” added Robertson.
The second part of the problem is that of adequate parking for fans. It’s become almost normal for residents to see an unusually high amount of traffic in their neighborhoods whenever Oregon football and basketball home games are being played. Due to free parking in most of the streets on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as after 6 P.M. on weekdays, visitors attending these games can park their cars without problems; however, when Knight opens its doors for the 2010-2011 season, more residents are seeing the lack of a proper parking facility as being a huge headache.
“On my street I have to buy a parking pass if I want to park during the day,” says Fairmount resident students like 25-year-old Economics major Marcus Potter who lives four blocks away from Mac Court on Agate Street. “For the most part I don’t mind it except when I get home from work during a game and I have nowhere near my house to park.”
As it stands now for McArthur there is a small parking area on campus as well as on the street surrounding Hayward Field.
The other issue that has residents talking is that of the party scene in the area as the spring term passes its halfway point this weekend. As students unwind from their workload some are already getting ready to celebrate.
“We’ll tolerate a few parties here and there,” says Robertson. “The beginning of the school year is the worst time as new students will come in and want to celebrate, but as time goes on the students will be more respectful to their neighbors and usually shut down between ten and eleven.”
Bob Rice, the owner and manager of Tom’s Market on 19th and Agate, knows first hand what the party and drinking situation is like near campus. For more that thirty years Rice has dealt with the ups and downs of drinking within the student community, and for the most part is hasn’t been too problematic.
“I would say about 97% of the college kids are great, but every now and then you’re going to have your bad apples,” explains Rice.
The general consensus of home owners within the Fairmount community is positive as very few complaints against students are produced.
“We live in a great neighborhood with a lot of great people,” states Heather Kliever, who serves on the FNA board with Robertson as well as serves as editor of the FNA newsletter. “We have students renting on both sides of us and we have yet to have any real problems. This is not anything that wouldn’t be found in any other neighborhood. I would say we might have less [problems] than most.”
As construction looms on and another school year nears its end for students and home owners alike the one thing that both can take in is the change of the weather. The sun is showing its face more often and in an area saturated with parks, Laurelwood Golf Course and local favorite Prince Pückler’s ice cream parlor, residents old and young will surely be taking time out of their schedules to stop and smell the roses.
“This is a truly special part of Eugene,” says Oregon Law School graduate Jim Cleavenger. “The views are great, the wildlife is amazing, and everything is so close together.”