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Neighbors fed up with massive house parties near UB South

Posted at 10:43 AM, Aug 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-28 09:29:55-04

Dozens of people could be seen filing out of a home on Winspear Avenue Thursday night.  Buffalo Police say they broke up eight house parties in that area, taking a "proactive" approach to underage drinking.  One arrest was made.

For homeowners in the neighborhood, they say those parties are a typical scene on weekends.

"It seems that the problems have accelerated," Travis Ballard said. He's lived on Winspear for 10 years, but still gets nervous when students start moving in at the end of summer.

"And then the apprehension starts when the semester begins," he said.

Ballard says he can handle the noise and other disturbances that come with college house parties nearby.  It's the damage that comes along with the drunk students that he says is the most frustrating.

"During school it gets worse.  I've had my windows broken.  I've had graffiti painted on my house.  I've had my garden trampled."

Other homeowners say a major problem is the university's bus system.  They say thousands of students use it to get from North Campus to University Heights looking for house parties.

"To me, it's pathetic that an educational institution such as UB basically drops their kids into a neighborhood and knows there is nothing to do.  And they know [students] are coming here to get drunk," Bernard Kunz said.  He's lived on Northrup Place since 1988.

During the school year, the Buffalo Police Department designates a specific University Heights detail. Buffalo Police said Friday it is also concerned with these bus lines.

"Police have serious concerns about the amount of students being bused in from north campus on weekends," a Buffalo Police spokesperson said.

The university is changing those bus routes this school year.  Instead of running every 10 minutes from North Campus to University Heights, the buses will only be departing every 20 minutes.

UB is also launching three free bus lines this year for students.  Offered on weekend nights, the lines will run from campus to shopping and entertainment areas on Walden Avenue, Transit Road and Maple Road.

Neighbors are hopeful changes to the bus schedule will help bring down the number of big house parties.

Ballard would still like to see more consequences for students causing property damage.  He thinks the response from the community would be different if more of the students causing damage were black.

"If there were four or five or 10 black kids walking down the street like this, I don't think they'd have the same kind of privilege as happens to people who cause problems in this neighborhood," he said.

Friday night also brought more trouble, with police lining up Winspear Avenue, shutting down several house parties.

"We want to let it be known that people live here," said Molly Poremski, who graduated from UB in 2002. "This is not just a student neighborhood. There's working families, older people, people with kids."

These parties have been keeping residents from the area awake late hours.

"You see them congregate, walking up and down the streets," said Bernard Kunz. "It's probably hundreds. Some people compare it to Mardi Gras."

While approximately 3,000 freshmen move into UB this year, the BPD is keeping a closer eye on the parties going on more than previous years.

"I think last year it just got so bad there were some problem with houses in the neighborhood that just happen to be across from us and the police response, and community engagement... everybody's been really responsive," said Poremski.

UB seniors who live on Winspear Avenue feel they can't enjoy their last year at school without police in front of their homes.

"It's definitely those first couple of weeks that the cops are just everywhere," said Jordan Jennings. "You see five, 10 cop cars on every road and it seems a little ridiculous for college... it's definitely increased a lot."

"They can come but just tell them to lower the music you don't need to kick out 100 kids into the streets," said Matt Cooper. "