I live in a predominantly student-populated area near Frostburg State University. Many negative stories have been written concerning this area, stories about vandalism, decay and tragedy.
I was one who bemoaned the situation and believed the neighborhood was being neglected by both the city of Frostburg and the university.
However, I am not writing to dwell on negative events of the past, but to focus on the positive happenings since the partnership occurred. It’s taken a concerted effort, of education, cooperation and enforcement, but the neighborhood is improving.
First: While there are still issues with some garbage, code enforcement officials have been doing a great job. It’s understood that young people tend to be messy and that some garbage will blow around due to the wind, but it’s much cleaner than in years past. The landlords have been a better job about enforcing standards on their tenants.
Second: The big parties are not occurring at the same rate as in the past. The partnership between the university and the city, and the allocation of law enforcement resources, has led to a decrease in the number of massive parties. These parties were where the worst violence, the riskiest behavior and the general chaos tended to occur.
Through education and enforcement, the students who hosted these parties are either slightly leery of repercussions or they are simply making better choices.
Thanks to the Frostburg Police and Frostburg State Police, as their increased presence is surely helping. Innovations, like the tip line (687-STOP), have allowed people to tip off law enforcement, without fear of retaliation.
Unless you lived in this neighborhood, you can’t imagine how intimidating it was to know that your name was being associated with a party being broken up, older citizens expressed this concern often. Both forces are open to citizen input and tips and Chief Smith at Frostburg State has been particularly helpful in this respect.
Third: The students themselves are much more understanding that they too are part of this community. This is a huge improvement; for previously it seemed as if a large number of students felt that Frostburg was nothing more than a giant playground, to destroy at will.
President Gibralter has raised standards for admission, raised expectations, and raised accountability on the students and that has definitely been a factor. However it would be negligent to not compliment the students themselves. They just seem to be making better choices. Groups of students help with many events around the community and often do not get the recognition that they deserve.
Fourth: Education and a focus on binge drinking. Frostburg has been on the cutting edge of this and President Gibralter has been a champion for this fight. It makes a huge difference.
In summary, a bad situation has become much better. Is it perfect? Probably not. However, it’s livable and its not a state of constant chaos. That is a huge improvement from just three years ago. Let’s keep this momentum going into the Spring of 2013 and beyond.
Here’s a word of thanks to some (but certainly not all) who have helped.
The Frostburg Mayor (Bob Flanigan) and City Council (Donny Carter, Dennis Bridges, Brian Alderton, Walter Mackay), Frostburg Police Department (Chief Douty and staff), Frostburg Code Enforcement (Mark Monnett), Frostburg’s Street Department employees, Frostburg State University President Gibralter and his staff, Frostburg State University Police (Chief Smith and Staff), Dean Jesse Ketterman and his staff and the Students of Frostburg State University.
It has been the best fall semester in a long time around these parts, and it is much appreciated.
George M. Reasons