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This week’s edition!

Enough is Enough: City Council addresses problem of disorderly Bates students

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

Last week the Lewiston City Council in a 5-1 vote brought order back to a Lewiston neighborhood. This long-time quiet residential neighborhood in the White Street/Davis Street area, which borders Bates College, will be returned to tranquility.

Although the problem was brought on by a miniscule number of Bates College seniors, it was not a Bates College problem. It was a City of Lewiston problem. These were a group of seniors at Bates who took advantage of their parents’ wealth, opting to rent apartments and houses off campus, thus neutralizing any attempt by the Bates Administration to control and punish their behavior.

This quiet neighborhood has been the scene of loud drinking parties, many involving underage drinkers. These party-goers urinate on people’s lawns and bushes. They threaten neighborhood residents when confronted by them about their behavior. Trash, bottles and cans, paper cups, condoms, etc. are thrown on the street, yards and sidewalks.

Neighborhood children are kept up by the noise. Breadwinners report to their jobs tired. The elderly and the infirm are denied a proper night’s sleep.

Why? Because this small group of Bates seniors don’t care. Well, the city council and the mayor care. Speaking for myself, I have no sympathy for them or the entrepreneurs that are buying up neighborhood housing to make a quick buck.

The parking was the first step. We have stepped up our code enforcement and fire department inspections of these buildings to make sure they are up to code and safe. We have an ordinance on the books pertaining to disorderly apartments. These will be strictly enforced, along with other laws and codes that will make the area livable.

Lastly, I must stress that 99 percent of Bates College students create no problems. Their presence is a boon to our community. Please do not look at or treat them like the one percent that neither respects nor cares about the community. If the landlords, college administration, city officials and neighborhood residents work together, order will be permanently restored in the neighborhood.

I left the city council meeting very happy: we had stabilized this neighborhood. This was a big win for those living there. But I also thought of the trashing from Ben Chin and the Maine People’s Alliance (MPA) I have endured, simply for attempting to ensure a better quality of life for the good people living in Lewiston’s downtown.

Like those living in the White/Davis Street neighborhood, these inner-city residents suffer from the same conditions—times 10. Why? Because relief has been stymied by Chin, the MPA and Pine Tree Legal.

They have made an issue of the deplorable conditions in our downtown housing stock.

They have unmercifully vilified area landlords. While not every building owner is a responsible landlord, the majority are. When assigning blame, who is really responsible for these conditions?

Owning property is a business. In the downtown area, you’re limited as to what you can charge for rent. When your tenants destroy their apartments and become deadbeats, going weeks without paying rent before finally being forced out, does this make our landlords the villains?

The real villains are Chin, the MPA and Pine Tree Legal. MPA, along with the willing help of their sycophants in press, vilifies local landlords. Meanwhile, Pine Tree Legal assures deadbeats of additional rent-free living.

The MPA, along with the help of our progressive and liberal local state representatives, have thwarted legislation to alleviate these conditions. But that is for a future column.

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