Townhouse Troubles Clarified

Kate Preziosi

September saw a mix of dramatic temperature changes as the Hamilton weather transitioned and flip-flops yielded to sneakers. With the change, many residents within the Townhouse Apartments complained of discomfort during some nights due to their inability to individually control the heating within the complex.

Some expressed frustration over a lack of communication with Residential Life during the cold blast, citing the need for untimely winter gear to keep warm.

“I was pretty cold myself,” senior Matt Jandreau said. “However, I know that the townhouses were designed so that we either have air conditioning or heat, but we can’t have both. So instead of complaining about the situation, I just tossed on some extra clothes and used extra blankets.”

Senior Lindsay Serpe felt that the problem was mostly informational.

“The main problem with the heat issue was a lack of communication,” Serpe said. “A lot of people still don’t realize how the heat works and that it has to be turned on centrally for everyone.”

Associate Director of Residential Life James Amato is the primary supervisor of the Townhouse Apartments, overseeing such responsibilities as community building and discipline. He cited the need for students to rely on their Community Leaders, who represent each Townhouse Apartment, to keep lines of communication open.

“I forwarded all the e-mails from students to Buildings and Grounds,” he explained in regard to last month’s cold snap. “They provided both consolation and a solution. [Associate Director of Facilities and Manager of Engineering Services] Peter Babich conducted an informal self-survey over three days, and concluded that about 50 percent of the windows in the complex were open. The first step to solving the problem is to keep them closed.”

Amato also called attention to similar problems which other universities across the country experience with central heating systems.

“I’m cold today, but the weather forecast predicts record heat by the end of the week,” he said. “Until it’s consistently cold, it just doesn’t make sense to get the heating system going.”

Another problem that many of the residents cited in regard to Townhouse living was their inability to barbecue outside, despite ResLife promising to provide grills.

“Every other housing community at least has those charcoal grills that are anchored in the ground,” junior Sam Evans said. “It was really disappointing especially when it was really warm out and it would’ve been fun to grill some burgers. It seemed as though they promised them to us and just decided not to give them to us.”

Amato again pointed to the need to utilize Community Leaders to transfer information.

“I haven’t done anything regarding heat grills without notifying Community Leaders,” he explained. “The reason behind the edict is in order to comply with state fire code. Also, in the past, we have found students storing propane within their townhouses. One of the major places to store things in those residences is above the washer-dryer units. One stray spark could be disastrous.”

Adams acknowledged similar issues. “The primary reason for the policy against [student-owned] grills is that state fire code prohibits the use or storage of charcoal or gas grills in the immediate vicinity of residences,” she said. “There is a distance required by state law. Grills absolutely cannot be stored or used on decks or porches. That policy has always been in existence, will not change by fire code mandate and is not by any means a new policy for this year.”

Amato has been working with Buildings and Grounds to inherit a storage shed currently being used in the final stages of construction on the Ho Science Center. The shed, which likely won’t be available until January, can be used to store multiple grills and utensils needed for barbecuing. The propane will also be provided by Residential Life as an added benefit.

Amato emphasized again that the other concerns cited by Townhouse residents, such as an inability to get basic cleaning supplies, would best be solved by communicating with each apartment’s appointed Community Leader.

“We are cognizant of student concerns,” Amato said. “We want to do what’s best for them.”