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Eastwood Avenue residents complain about Dickens access road

Several Eastwood Avenue residents have complained of Belmont students driving recklessly  around the new Dickens Hall garage access road and then cursing at them — one said she was flipped the bird — when asked to slow down.

The access road was opened in January as a way to redirect student traffic to the Dickens garage after the normal route was blocked off by construction for the new residence hall.

“I’ve been told to [expletive] myself, to [expletive] off,” said an Eastwood resident, who wished to remain anonymous. “Just for waving at drivers to slow down.”

The resident said she has seen students frequently drive well over the 30 mph speed limit —  often while on the phone.

“Half of the students are nice about it and slow down when we ask them to,” the resident said. “But the other half are very rude.”

Another resident, who also wished to remain anonymous, said she had seen much of the same things.

“An elderly woman who lives just down the street was getting out of her car to her walker, and a student completely cut past her and sped off,” the resident said. “They probably would have only had to wait another 30 seconds for her.”

Chief of Campus Security Pat Cunningham said his office has continued to receive feedback from “concerned neighbors” about several students driving recklessly through the area.

In response, Campus Security positioned officers around the area to warn students to slow down.

“While our Campus Security officers do not have authority to conduct traffic stops or issue citations on public streets, we have had officers present at times to help monitor traffic concerns and provide safety information as appropriate,” Cunningham said. “If an officer observes serious violations, we could potentially request MNPD issue a citation and/or refer the violation to community accountability.”

Additionally, Campus Security placed a radar trailer at the bottom of Eastwood Avenue Friday in order to “gather data on the frequency and severity of the speeding violations in the area,” as well as to “provide feedback to drivers who may have been unaware of how fast they were traveling,” Cunningham said.

The radar trailer has since been removed, but it will continue to be used by Campus Security periodically. The data collected by the radar during its first deployment has not yet been reviewed by Campus Security, Cunningham said.

Cunningham added that if the situation does not improve, he would “anticipate a significant increase in enforcement activity.”

An email sent out to Belmont students Feb. 17 from Residence Life Director Anthony Donovan also outlined ways students could be driving safer to ensure safety.

The email can be read here.

The student driver complaints were not the first time Eastwood residents have complained to Belmont.

Residents also complained about the opening of the new access road and said they were never notified by Belmont about the road before it was opened to students in January.

Residents who spoke to the Vision said they contacted Vice President for Administration and University Counsel Jason Rogers to ask why they had not been notified before the opening of the road.

Neighbors were notified via a community meeting hosted by Belmont and Metro government in November, Rogers said.

“We’ve been working hard to address neighbor concerns about student driving habits on Eastwood Avenue and surrounding alleys,” Rogers said.

Residents are taking a wait-and-see attitude.

“I hope this doesn’t end up affecting my impression of Belmont,” said one resident. “Because it’s been pretty good so far.”

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