Thursday, June 13, 2024

Murfreesboro confronts MTSU over deteriorating rental properties

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Story by Kailee Shores

While students actively struggle to find safe, affordable off-campus housing, MTSU owns residential properties surrounding campus valued at over $12 million, according to a letter Murfreesboro City Manager Craig Tindall sent to President Sidney McPhee on November 3.

The letter stated the University is not using the properties for any educational purposes and does not have a defined plan to do so. Instead, the properties are being “rented by a third party to non-students.”

These properties have been removed from the City’s tax roll since they are owned by an institution for public education. But the location of the properties contributes highly to crime rates in Murfreesboro, according to the letter from Tindall.

The letter noted that Murfreesboro Police responded to 202 calls last year to MTSU’s rental properties, including calls regarding theft, assault, domestic emergency, one call for shots fired and one call about a corpse.

The city said the properties are located on Middle Tennessee Boulevard, on the western border of campus and other streets, including Jordan Avenue, Ragland Avenue, City View Drive, Ewing Boulevard and others.

“Some of the calls were for very serious incidents, but, because the University pays no taxes on these properties, all calls are a drain on City resources and a burden on the community,” Tindall stated.

The letter highlighted, in addition to tax exemption and high crime, the degenerative condition of most of the real estate by attaching photos of the properties.

Tindall stated that representatives of the university planning staff met with the city to hear the complaints, but the city manager wrote that the university officials “indicated a correction would take some time.” 

“Unfortunately, this is unacceptable,” Tindall noted, taking the university to task. “Ownership of several properties that are allowed to deteriorate and blight the community is far from the actions of a ‘world class’ organization.

President McPhee responded in likeness with a letter, stating, “One of the issues you raise regarding crime in the surrounding areas of the university is one that we take very seriously. As President, there is nothing more important to me than the safety and well-being of our students and members of our MTSU community.”

In his response, McPhee compared the crime levels at MTSU with other like universities, stating, “As the latest report from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation shows, criminal activity on our campus is relatively low and consistent with experiences at our sister institutions.”

Andrew Oppmann, Vice President and spokesman for MTSU, said in a statement to WKRN, “The areas that they’ve pinpointed in that is beyond our campus. We are responsible for and take great pride and take accountability for the things that happen on our campus,” Oppmann said.

The city said in the letter it will oppose future purchases of residential properties by MTSU until the situation is rectified.

Kailee Shores is the News Editor for MTSU Sidelines.

To contact News Editor Kailee Shores, Assistant News Editor Alyssa Williams and Assistant News Editor Zoe Naylor, email newseditor@mtsusidelines.com.

For more news, visit www.mtsusidelines.com, or follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines or on Twitter and Instagram at @mtsusidelines.

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