The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

June 19, 2013

LiveKato addresses first-time renters

City hopes to help promote neighborliness

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"They said, 'Trick or Treat,' and they handed me the candy," she said.

The college nursing students said they'd just moved in down the street and wanted to introduce themselves to their neighbors.

"We just laughed and had a good time," Gillispie said.

When asked if the first contact with other college-student neighbors was sometimes less pleasant during her 36 years living in the Highland Park neighborhood, Gillispie laughs again.

"Every fall, we get a new batch in and in the spring they leave," Gillispie said diplomatically.

Still, she talks about the pluses as well as the minuses that come with young neighbors. One group helps older homeowners with leaf-raking, another did a neighborhood watch on Halloween.

The downside can involve parking violations, noise, messes. Gillispie is philosophical about how some of the problems can arise simply because the focus of longtime homeowners and short-term college students can be on very different things.

"Like everybody, it's positive and negative, and we're trying to emphasize the positive," she said. "They're looking down the road. ... They have different priorities, and being my neighbor may not be one of them."

The work of landlords to instruct new renters about city regulations and about the common courtesies expected of neighborhood living can make a crucial difference, Gillispie said.

"Some landlords are fantastic," she said. "I can't say enough about them, because they educate their students."

Assistant City Manger Tanya Ange said LiveKato.com aims to spread that education to all new renters by putting it on a media young people are likely to use. And they're working with the MSU student newspaper to promote the page, including offering chances to win prizes and discounts for people who access the site.

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