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View Poll Results: Is the University of Scranton a Boon or Burden to Our City?
Boon. Bring on the intellectuals! 25 55.56%
Burden. Blue-collar roots forever! 2 4.44%
Both. We need to find a better compromise. 16 35.56%
I don't know. 2 4.44%
Voters: 45. You may not vote on this poll

 
 
Old 09-30-2007, 02:46 PM
 
Location: Marshall-Shadeland, Pittsburgh, PA
31,438 posts, read 70,422,896 times
Reputation: 17144

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It appears as if the University of Scranton has been dominating the Scranton Times-Tribune as of late, and I've been watching all of the recent developments with great interest, especially in the editorial letters from city residents.

The debate probably began in July when City Councilwoman Janet Evans read aloud an article in a publication (I can't recall which one) that highlighted how host cities to institutions of higher learning have to place a higher overall tax burden onto residents of those communities in lieu of the tax revenues they lose from the real estate that these non-profits gobble up. I was at this meeting and approached the podium to propose that instead of increasing its annual contribution in lieu of taxes to the city, the university might consider having students earn financial incentives (such as reduced tuition) to sign a contract contingent upon agreeing to reside in the city limits for "X" number of years after graduation. The penalty for moving out of the city limits before that agreed-upon timeframe had expired would be to reimburse the university for a portion of the reduced tuition. In the long-term retaining more college graduates in our city limits will help us to attract more white-collar employers (something Mr. Bob Bolus apparently doesn't want to see, but I digress). If our percentage of adults who possess a Bachelor's Degree increases, then so does our attractiveness to prospective employers who might consider moving here to capitalize upon our highly-skilled workforce (this would be a great way to convince Wall Street West firms to move here instead of Stroudsburg). The city would also rake in many more dollars in the long-term via the wage tax because more college graduates in the city means that there will be more city residents with moderate incomes, which will equate to a higher return per capita for the wage tax (which can be used to help pay down the long-term liabilities that Doherty has run up like a madman).

I see nothing but good things potentially coming out of the University of Scranton, yet I'm aghast to see that the majority of the city seems to despise it. Here is a letter to the editor that Mr. Bob Bolus submitted to the Scranton Times-Tribune on September 27, 2007:

Blue-collar blues on U of S-city project


Editor: The University of Scranton is a fine institution of higher learning but it is not a city and should not be allowed to become one. Should we re-name Mulberry Street the Avenue of the University?

How nice of City Council President Judy Gatelli to stand at the University of Scranton and announce that they would be installing new sidewalks and lights on Mulberry Street to the tune of $1 million.

It would be nice if other areas of the city could be the recipient of this type of progress, and not a prosperous, tax-exempt institution. If City Council members Gatelli, Sherri Nealon Fanucci and Robert McGoff and the mayor have their way, Scranton will be a subsidiary of the University of Scranton.

Why would these council members take away taxable properties and give them to a tax-exempt entity?

If they and the Chamber of Commerce were recruiting businesses to create jobs, these properties would not fall victim to blight to be scooped up as they were.

City taxpayers are going to be victims of this crew until the people can no longer afford to pay for their lofty ideas and grandiose visions. Scranton is primarily a blue-collar society and cannot afford these types of politicians. They should be trying to secure grants to improve the living conditions and the quality of life for city taxpayers.

Supporting high-end businesses doesn't help blue-collar citizens.

Most council members have secure public sector jobs with Cadillac benefits, so they cannot relate to the average taxpayer who struggles daily to keep their family safe and comfortable.

Tearing down homes to build dormitories that will bring in very little revenue to the city is not the answer.

It is time to elect someone to represent all of the people, not just a privileged few.

Do you visualize Scranton as a city unto itself that can support average citizens and minorities, or a city governed by the University of Scranton, big business and KOZs?

Council members Gatelli, Fanucci and McGoff must not realize that if you increase the tax base, you decrease the tax burden
.

BOB BOLUS

SCRANTON

I bolded the parts of Mr. Bolus's letter that I must be critical of. I am in complete agreement with him that the city's current $300,000,000 long-term debt is largely the fault of Mayor Christopher Doherty and "the council three." I am in complete agreement with him that there has to be some sort of limit as to the level of taxable land the university is allowed to devour; we can't just allow the Lower Hill to become entirely non-profit.

However, I now want to take a few of his quotes individually to make my own observations:

"If they and the Chamber of Commerce were recruiting businesses to create jobs, these properties would not fall victim to blight to be scooped up as they were."

I'm not quite so sure about this one, Mr. Bolus. With all due respect Downtown Scranton could have hundreds of white-collar, family-sustaining, high-tech firms via the Wall Street West project by 2012. The presence of high-quality opportunities within the city limits doesn't automatically mean that these new employees will all opt to live in the city. Something tells me that of the 10 new positions Seccas is bringing to the city, most (if not all) of them will live in The Abingtons, North Pocono, Mid-Valley, etc. The allure and "prestige" of our suburbs is a large reason as to why there are so many vacant homes in the city. People aren't leaving Scranton on account of "high taxes," as tax rates in many neighboring municipalities are just as burdensome. People are leaving because American society, in general, wants more square footage, larger lot sizes, more room for their "toys," etc. Urban blight in Scranton isn't because the city isn't liveable; urban sprawl simply hasn't been regulated well enough.

On the contrary, Mr. Bolus, why is it solely the responsibility of government to "bring us good jobs?" The city is currently in a Catch-22. Quality employers won't move to Scranton because the residents are poorly-educated, overall. The poorly-educated residents won't obtain a degree unless they see the value in obtaining one paying off in terms of a more lucrative career opportunity, of which there aren't many currently in the Electric City. If Mr. Bolus wants Scranton to become a mecca for high-paying jobs, then why doesn't he see the importance in higher-education and the effect it can have upon luring better employers to us?

"Supporting high-end businesses doesn't help blue-collar citizens."

Why is Mr. Bolus only concerned about blue-collar citizens? Are the teachers, professors, accountants, attorneys, physicians, nurses, pharmacists, scientists, politicians, managers, systems analysts, web designers, architects, engineers, etc. any less important than our truck drivers, plumbers, welders, fast-food workers, etc.? Lower-middle-class people already have plenty of establishments and recreational venues to enjoy. Why can't we do the same for the white-collar community by bringing art galleries, book stores, coffee houses, ethnic restaurants, boutiques, etc. to our downtown? Just because blue-collar people can't afford them doesn't mean we shouldn't offer them. This particular sentence immediately made me think "class envy." It's almost to say "If I can't afford to enjoy nice things, then why should anyone?" Why not say "If I can't afford to enjoy nice things, then why don't I figure out what's wrong in my life and improve upon it?" Why always try to bring others down instead of trying to bring yourselves up? Is it just easier to voice sour grapes?

"Tearing down homes to build dormitories that will bring in very little revenue to the city is not the answer."

Why not? Most Hill Section residents would agree that having all of the university's underclassmen (who tend to be the most obnoxious and rowdiest) living ON-CAMPUS would be very beneficial to their quality-of-life. There will be less rowdy parties, less noise, and less conflicts between the university and the Hill Section's residents. Resident assistants (RAs) will live in these dormitories and be able to keep a tighter watch on what these students are up to, reducing the problems of public drunkenness, rowdiness, etc. spilling over into the surrounding residential areas.

Did Mr. Bolus stop to consider that by taking students out of multi-unit apartments off-campus and putting them back ONTO campus that those grand old homes can once again be put to use to house families, potentially boosting the city's tax base overall? Perhaps the same white-collar people he begrudges can renovate these former off-campus student homes into lovely single-family homes, and bring some pride back to the Lower Hill? Perhaps the same white-collar salaries he seems to begrudge can pump quite a bit of money into the city's coffers via the 3.4% city wage tax? Perhaps the process of the same white-collar professionals he seems to begrudge moving back into these once-troubled multi-units in the Hill Section can improve our city's demographics and help to lure in better-paying jobs? Perhaps having white-collar families in the Hill Section can help to bring stability back to the neighborhood?

"Council members Gatelli, Fanucci and McGoff must not realize that if you increase the tax base, you decrease the tax burden."

I'm quite sure they realize this, Mr. Bolus, as they are all educated people. By making Mulberry Street, one of the gateways into our city, more aesthetically-appealing, we might just be able to attract more residents here in the long-term, improving our tax base. I, for one, am thrilled that my probable walking route between my future downtown office and my future Hill Section home will be lined with shade trees, Victorian-era streetlights, and freshly-poured sidewalks. Enhancing the aesthetics of the campus makes it more attractive to prospective students and their parents, which might help the university to grow even more.

The better the reputation of the University of Scranton, the better the image of its host city to potential new residents. With the new medical college also coming downtown in a few years, this will put Scranton one step closer to becoming a true "college town." We could very easily transform Scranton into being an awesome community like Ithaca, NY, Madison, WI, Princeton, NJ, or Ann Arbor, MI by embracing our institutions of higher learning, which combine to add thousands of students to our city.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

It is my humble opinion that people like Mr. Bolus and the others who want Scranton to "stick to its roots" and "cling to the past" are doing nothing but a disservice to it. You blue-collar nostalgics have had decades to prove to us that promoting Industrial-era heritage first and 21st-Century progress later is a great idea, yet that idea has failed miserably, as the city is mired in poverty as a result, and our MSA has a pathetic per capita income of just $31,000. Now it is time for you all to surrender this notion and permit Scranton to grow and prosper with fresh, new ideas. You had decades, Mr. Bolus (and those who are like-minded), to prove to us that "sticking to our blue-collar roots" is the best cure for what ails the city. That drove us into despair. Now it's time for we educated twenty-somethings to rise to the call and actually put Scranton back onto the map! It would be nice if Mr. Bolus would occasionally submit a letter to the editor in which he offered fresh ideas instead of just attacking the city administration.
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Old 09-30-2007, 03:05 PM
 
Location: Marshall-Shadeland, Pittsburgh, PA
31,438 posts, read 70,422,896 times
Reputation: 17144
Default Update

There are two more letters to the editor in today's edition of the Scranton Times-Tribune, and I will now post both in their entirety before commenting on them.

1.) Leading city asset

Editor: The story of the University of Scranton doing some revamping on Mulberry Street is truly becoming a water cooler discussion. Why? I do not know.

It would seem that some are upset that Mulberry Street is going to finally get a true facelift. Others feel the funds should be donated to the city. Why? Sooner or later this project will have to be done, so the university has taken it upon its shoulders to handle all the costs and burdens of a large and complex project.

Why are so many so ready, willing and able to attack the university, which brings so much to this area? This city would have darkened many of its business doors many years ago if it not for the population and jobs the Jesuit community brought into this area.

Stop trying to diminish the reputation of a beautiful and life-building school because you do not fully understand the reason, nor purpose of its community-oriented complex.

Thank you, University of Scranton. I am so proud you are here in this city. Keep the classes, projects, seminars and programs running at full steam.

REV. KATHRYN SIMMONS

SCRANTON


2.) Good deal to collar

Editor: Regarding Bob Bolus' Sept. 27 letter to the editor: Really, Bob? The citizens are victims of "this crew?" You will have to excuse me if I mistake the use of the term, "crew," but do you really think that the mayor and some council members are "in bed with 'Da U' "?

Supporting business is exactly what helps all of our citizens, no matter what color collar you want to put on us. Without business we have no jobs; without jobs there are no employees, nor taxable income, etc. Open your mind to the concept of 100 percent on-campus housing for undergraduate students. What a concept.

Imagine the families of prospective students coming to see a place where their son or daughter will be spending the next four years of their lives and seeing an old Victorian that has been divided into too many student apartments with people drinking on the stairs and flowing onto Mulberry Street (sorry, the University of Scranton Boulevard.)

That is a pretty picture that will be gone thanks to this project. By the way, Bob, why don't you consider minorities to be "average citizens?" Do they wear a different color collar than you and I?

DENNIS C. GAVIN

SCRANTON

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Rev. Simmons is a woman who I've come to admire and respect quite a bit from the city council meetings. She is very active with the Florence/Midtown Crime Watch and goes out of her way to help the lower-income residents of our city. She approaches the podium at nearly every meeting and can often become quite empassioned about promoting topics to help the city's less fortunate. For her, a champion of the city's poor, to go out on a limb to defend the university's reputation proves to me that Mr. Bolus is in a very vocal minority who feel as if the university is doing more harm than good for this city if he honestly feels as if the rest of his blue-collars "have his back" on this one.

Mr. Gavin also raises some excellent points in the matter. I initially didn't even notice Mr. Bolus's racist comment until he pointed it out for me and I went back to reread the letter in question. Just what did he mean to say with his comment of "Average citizens AND minorities?" It could have very easily just been a slip of the keyboard, so to speak, but to me it looks as if he was making a clear distinction between "average citizens" on one side and "minorities" on another side, which I find to be outrageous. As a minority myself, I'd love to personally ask Mr. Bolus why I don't fit into the "average" category as an upcoming resident of this city? I'm totally lost with that comment.

Mr. Gavin also made similar points to the ones I alluded to---why is Mr. Bolus only concerned about the blue-collars in this city? Are white-collars similar to minorities in that they aren't the same as the AVERAGE citizens in the eyes of Mr. Bolus? It stands to reason that if Mayor Doherty and his three "minions" on city council were elected by the majority, and that if most in Scranton think these four people exclusively represent the white-collar crowd in the city, then the majority of the city must be white-collar then to have voted for them, right? Give me a break. Mr. Bolus should submit another letter to the editor clarifying his positions on where he stands, as I'm now thoroughly-unhappy with his letter.

Last edited by SteelCityRising; 09-30-2007 at 03:06 PM.. Reason: Typographical Error
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Old 10-01-2007, 12:35 AM
 
1,429 posts, read 3,322,293 times
Reputation: 574
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScrantonWilkesBarre View Post
Did Mr. Bolus stop to consider that by taking students out of multi-unit apartments off-campus and putting them back ONTO campus that those grand old homes can once again be put to use to house families, potentially boosting the city's tax base overall? Perhaps the same white-collar people he begrudges can renovate these former off-campus student homes into lovely single-family homes, and bring some pride back to the Lower Hill?
I don't see this happening. If the homes are owned by the U, they will be torn down to create green space or utilized in another way. Once the U assumes a property, what reason would they have to sell it?
If the homes are owned by landlords who wish to rent to U students, there will not be a shortage of tenants, especially since some of the 'party houses' have been torn down. Regardless, who would want to raise a family in that neighboorhood anyway? Do you want your children to witness drunken students, both male and female, yelling, stumbling, and urinating on your property? How about the trash strewn streets, the increased chance of vandalism and theft, and the drug element that is attracted? The 'something should be done' section of todays paper showcases a large garbage pile, something extremely common in the courts surrounding the U and student apartments.

I'm not saying that the city of scranton does not benefit in some ways, but at best I believe it simply breaks even. I think that the city needs to enact ordinances to limit the types of property that can be claimed as tax free, such as requiring the property be within 500 ft. from a building used for educational purposes.

Looking around, I see three hospitals and three schools, all either expanding or sure to expand shortly. A welcomed sight for a decaying inner city, but soon enough there won't be any city left to visit, and no one paying taxes...
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Old 12-16-2008, 07:54 PM
 
Location: Japan
21 posts, read 79,059 times
Reputation: 26
It's a no-brainer that a university improves the quality of life of any city it's in. The University of Scranmton, Marywood and the other colleges should all EXPAND their influence. The U. of S. pumped $309,000,000.00 into the city in 2006. The cultural influence is enormous, it attracts graduates to remain in the city. Regarding the potential noise and trash, they just need strict rules for the students. It is actually local under-educated losers who seem to be more of a drag on the city.
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Old 12-16-2008, 08:16 PM
 
Location: NEPA
2,009 posts, read 3,443,148 times
Reputation: 1959
Quote:
Why is Mr. Bolus only concerned about blue-collar citizens? Are the teachers, professors, accountants, attorneys, physicians, nurses, pharmacists, scientists, politicians, managers, systems analysts, web designers, architects, engineers, etc. any less important than our truck drivers, plumbers, welders, fast-food workers, etc.? Lower-middle-class people already have plenty of establishments and recreational venues to enjoy. Why can't we do the same for the white-collar community by bringing art galleries, book stores, coffee houses, ethnic restaurants, boutiques, etc. to our downtown? Just because blue-collar people can't afford them doesn't mean we shouldn't offer them. This particular sentence immediately made me think "class envy." It's almost to say "If I can't afford to enjoy nice things, then why should anyone?" Why not say "If I can't afford to enjoy nice things, then why don't I figure out what's wrong in my life and improve upon it?" Why always try to bring others down instead of trying to bring yourselves up? Is it just easier to voice sour grapes?

Why do you say that blue collar people don't enjoy art galleries, coffee shops and boutiques? I'm not white collar, and those things aren't my cup of tea, but i could enjoy them once in a while.
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Old 02-20-2010, 03:10 PM
 
1 posts, read 3,484 times
Reputation: 10
My husband, a University professor, and I just bought a home on the Hill because of the financial incentive the University gives us to reside in this neighborhood. Many of our colleagues and friends from the University are doing the same thing. As far as I can see, the University and the hospitals are pretty much the only thing the Hill section has going for it. The 400 block of several avenues are littered with beer cans and trash and that's a shame -- I really wish our students would grow up when it comes to the drinking and littering -- but their presence contributes greatly to many small businesses in the City.

I think it's astounding that any City resident would gripe about a gift of a $1 million facelift of Mulberry Avenue (and adjacent blocks).
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Old 02-20-2010, 03:53 PM
 
Location: Drama Central
4,083 posts, read 8,347,414 times
Reputation: 1891
As a resident of the city for 16 years and someone who lived at the University I disagree to the real benefit that the students give to the business's in Scranton other then the bars. They are a drain on our services considering how much time our police have to spend at the U and in the hill dealing with student issues rather the protecting the residents. Students trash the hill and then leave and we are stuck with the aftermath. The U has completely gobbled up many properties in the hill and removed them from our tax rolls and then they hide behind their non-profit status while they sit on a $100,000,000 endowment fund.

The $1,000,000 gift was to fix up streets that primarily benefit their campus and not the residents because there are few residents that still live in the area and most of the homes are slumlord rentals.

Your opinion is biased because your husband is employed by the U and your housing is being subsidized by the U as well.


Welcome to the Hill and good luck living there you are going to need it.
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Old 02-20-2010, 05:19 PM
 
Location: NEPA
127 posts, read 259,580 times
Reputation: 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by weluvpa View Post
As a resident of the city for 16 years and someone who lived at the University I disagree to the real benefit that the students give to the business's in Scranton other then the bars. They are a drain on our services considering how much time our police have to spend at the U and in the hill dealing with student issues rather the protecting the residents. Students trash the hill and then leave and we are stuck with the aftermath. The U has completely gobbled up many properties in the hill and removed them from our tax rolls and then they hide behind their non-profit status while they sit on a $100,000,000 endowment fund.

The $1,000,000 gift was to fix up streets that primarily benefit their campus and not the residents because there are few residents that still live in the area and most of the homes are slumlord rentals.

Your opinion is biased because your husband is employed by the U and your housing is being subsidized by the U as well.


Welcome to the Hill and good luck living there you are going to need it.

Wouldn't let me rep you for your post so I'll do it here! Very very well said.
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Old 02-20-2010, 05:42 PM
 
28,180 posts, read 22,311,952 times
Reputation: 16630
So where should all these annoying colleges be located?

Last edited by Magritte25; 02-20-2010 at 06:06 PM..
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Old 02-20-2010, 06:00 PM
 
Location: NEPA
127 posts, read 259,580 times
Reputation: 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magritte25 View Post
So where should all these low life colleges be located?
Nobody said they were 'low life colleges'.
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