Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Club Kirkwood Gets Clubbed

The two-family house in Brighton at 62-64 Kirkwood Road has long been a source of noise and loud parties according to nearby neighbors, and has been dubbed "Club Kirkwood" in the past by its residents. Off-campus Boston College undergraduate students have long been thought to occupy the house, and it was classified as one of 18 "problem houses" in the Kirkwood/Radnor area in 2006-7 by the Radnor neighborhood's group of residents who have been tracking the activity in their area.

62-64 Kirkwood Road's partying days appear over.

Boston College Police, in their joint patrols with Boston Police and moonlighting officials from the Office of Governmental and Community Affairs, visited the house three times since late August -- once finding around 80 kids there having a good time -- and found some dangerous conditions. As Bill Mills noted at the October 16th meeting of the BC Task Force, they allegedly found smoke detectors had been removed from the ceilings, missing CO detectors, underage drinking, and so on. A sting operation was planned for inspectors from the city's Inspectional Services Department, which identified other problems -- such as residents illegally housed in the basement, others housed in parts of the attic that don't meet height requirements, and locks on the bedroom doors (that might have constituted an illegal boarding house). Oddly enough, though, ISD issued no fines.

BC officials learned just what the neighborhood monitors have known for awhile: it can be difficult to track down the owner of some of these properties. The property was purchased in 2006 for $1.6 million -- way over its 2006 assessment of $1.04 million, i.e., probably one which the owner expects to charge high rents to large numbers of willing students -- by "Kirkwood Realty LLC." The listed address for that group was on Lincoln Street... but is no longer there. They tracked it down to someone in Watertown, and held an ISD hearing with him (and his lawyer) recently. Mills stated that the owner claimed to have terms in the lease banning parties, and that the owner agreed to initiate eviction proceedings if there are additional parties at the house.

The owner will be applying to the Zoning Board of Appeal to legalize some of these living conditions, such as the basement apartments. Paul Holloway of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services said that it is city policy to deny such applications if the basement apartment is more than 50% below grade; it was unclear if this is the case for the house. Neighbors will have to be on the lookout for a ZBA hearing about the owner's application for a variance.

Some of the student residents' parents were notified about the living condition and partying problems, and many of the parents apparently met during parent weekend.

And, after all that, the house has been eerily silent the last few weeks. Club Kirkwood seems to have been clubbed at the knees.

Student Behavior Incidents Down Compared to Last Year

BC Task Force member Rosie Hanlon commented that off-campus student behavior has been a lot better this year compared to last year. Paul Chebator, Interim Dean of Students at Boston College, detailed a comparison of last year's student incidents with this year's, showing that the numbers have dropped. Note that his numbers refer to campus-wide incidents, rather than being broken down into off-campus incidents.

September 2006September 2007
Students reported16094
University probationunavailable6

No students have been suspended or expelled yet this year, according to Interim Dean Chebator, but that would be unusual given that it is still early in the school year. Bill Mills noted that this year they are, in general, not seeing the large, 150+ student parties that were more common in the last few years.

Joint police patrols have made 52 visits to houses as of September 30th, where four of the houses were visited more than once and five of the houses turned out not to contain BC students. The hot spots? Upper Foster Street had 12 visits, Commonwealth Avenue, Kirkwood Road, and Radnor Road each had six, and Chestnut Hill Avenue had four.

Several residents commended BC officials on their job to contain off-campus partying. "We appreciate what you guys are doing," said Sandy Furman. But they noted that the ultimate solution to the off-campus student behavior problem is not going to be stepped-up enforcement, but rather a plan to house all BC undergraduate students on-campus. "This is a systemic problem," said task force member Kevin Carragee. "It will not go away until they are housed on campus." Having so many students occupying one- and two-family houses drives up the cost of housing, driving "working people from our neighborhood."

1 comment:

Andrew Sharp said...

Interesting post. I live at Kirkwood and a fellow-BC student forwarded this link to me. Despite the good-natured intentions of this blog--that is, the betterment of the Brighton community and the enclosed neighborhoods--I take issue with a few of your characterizations. First off, "Club" kirkwood insinuates that the only aim of the residents here is to indulge in transitory pleasures associated with "clubs." To clarify: we're not a "club", and whatever mischief we engage in on the weekends is juxtaposed with a week's worth of academic straining. Every week. We may play hard, but the majority of the residents here maintain of grade point average of at least 3.2. What's more, the "underage drinking" is commonplace on every college campus in the united states. As for smoke detectors, those were disconnected to begin with; and regardless, the detectors themselves are not affected by cigarette smoke, so we'd have little motivation to disconnect them ourselves. I understand the frustration that exists among the surrounding residents in Brighton, but it's unfair--and irresponsible--to demonize individual houses and/or residents for engaging in behavior that's WHOLLY TYPICAL of college-aged men and women. Moreover, it's bizarre to chronicle the travails of others from afar, particularly considering your presumed lack of direct involvement in these affairs.

Andrew Sharp
Club Kirkwood