The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

June 19, 2013

LiveKato addresses first-time renters

City hopes to help promote neighborliness

MANKATO — When college students make the big jump from their parents' home or a university dorm room to living in rental housing in Mankato, city officials hope they'll spend a little time looking (at their smartphone) before they leap.

The city has launched www.livekato.com, a mobile-friendly student guide to off-campus living.

The site has a bit of the lecturing and stern warnings that might be expected: "Keep the lawn mowed," "Shovel the sidewalks," don't burn "construction debris and garbage" in a recreational campfire, "be considerate," "pick up after pets ... ."

Another section spells out city ordinances on disruptive intoxication, a party host's liability if underage drinking is allowed, excessive noise and public nuisances such as trashy yards, over-occupied rental properties and indoor furniture sitting outdoors.

But there is also plenty of friendly advice on how to pick the right location if you're a partier vs. a quiet, studious sort, what to watch for before signing a lease, how to avoid being a crime victim, and how to access a variety of city services.

And the site contains practical suggestions about how to develop a mutually respectful relationship with neighbors, including one anecdote about how to get off on the right foot with neighbors.

"I hope the way it comes across is that we're in this together — we're not trying to put you down," said Tona Gillispie, president of the Highland Park Neighborhood Association.

It was Gillispie who contributed the story of the "reverse trick-or-treaters" she found at her door one Halloween.

"Oh, that was just the coolest," said Gillispie, whose neighborhood abuts Minnesota State University.

Expecting treat-seeking children when the bell rang, Gillispie opened the door to several young women instead.

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