MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) —A small home on Crestland Avenue has sparked concerns for the City of Murfreesboro.
“So MTSU proposes occasionally to purchase properties in and around campus,” said Assistant City Manager Sam Huddleston.
Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) is looking to purchase that home as part of its expansion master plan, but the city is objecting.
A few days ago, Murfreesboro officials sent MTSU President Dr. Sidney McPhee a letter stating their concerns:
“Over the last few years, we have noticed that properties that they have purchased have fallen to disrepair,” said Huddleston.
According to Huddleston, multiple residential properties owned by the university have become a blight within the city and contributed to an increase in crime.
“We cited in our letter there were 202 calls for service over about 50 properties, and that was a one year period, so that’s four, on average, four calls for service per resident.”
The letter also assessed the values of these properties, saying they total over $12 million and are removed from Murfreesboro’s tax roll since the university is tax-exempt.
“We were surprised,” said Andrew Oppmann, MTSU’s vice president of marketing and communications. “We felt we needed to respond because receiving that in writing was a shock to us.”
Oppmann said university officials have had multiple meetings, including one the day the letter was sent, with city leaders to address these concerns.
“The matters that they’re bringing up…the property near campus, we’re addressing,” he said. “We’ve hired a property manager to take care of those things, and in the cases where it’s not being addressed, we’re doing it ourselves.”
McPhee sent Murfreesboro officials a letter on Wednesday, Nov. 8 in response to the city’s concerns about the blight and crime mentioned.
McPhee mentioned the city’s crime data analysis maps referenced showcases incidents not in the immediate area of campus or where they hold the majority of their properties, but rather in areas that have long been a mixed-use residential area.
“The areas that they’ve pinpointed in that is beyond our campus,” said Oppmann. “We are responsible for and take great pride and take accountability for the things that happen on our campus.”
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While these concerns won’t be handled overnight, officials from both Murfreesboro and MTSU said they’re ready to sit down and continue discussing ways to improve things.
“I think it’s important that we maintain open lines of communication with trust, so we address the problems together,” said Oppmann.
According to Oppmann, the university has already set up multiple meetings with city leaders to discuss these issues, including a meeting scheduled for Monday, Nov. 13.