Soon the university will build a new nursing building, football stadium, performance hall and other structures.
However, the price to pay to get the new facilities will be tearing other buildings and housing down, specifically the Huckins area and houses on Wells Street.
What came as a surprise to students living in these houses is that they will be required to move out during Christmas break. Previously they had been told they would move out during the summer like everyone else.
Junior exercise and sport science major Rudy Nerio, who lives in the blue house near Huckins, was concerned about the new campus building development and how it affects him.
“We first found out about the house situation at our annual first housing meeting. They pulled us aside and other houses to break the news to us. My initial reaction was I have no clue where I’m going to live now. This made me extremely worried.”
Jeremy Sapp, Ethan Noel and Bailey Ross live at the 715 house on Wells Street. At the housing meeting, they were also told they would have to leave early and could not believe this was the only option.
Junior exercise and sport science major Noel said, “I was pretty mad at first, but once they explained the situation I was just bewildered.”
Dean of Students Ray Martin said, “We had to move folks out because we were given a deadline … by the Belton City Council. If we don’t knock out those houses by January or February, we won’t be able to accomplish our goal of expanding the campus. We’re trying
to help make room for more parking spaces, the nursing building, performance arts building, etc.”
Junior sport management major Bailey Ross said, “They explained that our options were either getting into the new apartments, but there wasn’t a guarantee we would all be roommates again. However, they promised we would be placed at the top of the housing list and first priority.”
So why this sudden change in action?
Under a Belton city rule, property owners are allowed to demolish their homes under certain conditions such as deterioration and/or economic hardship.
Therefore, the city council decided to implement a temporary eight-month moratorium on the Historic Preservation Ordinance.
But they sped it up to making it by January.
Junior math major Jeremy Sapp said, “I understand why they’re doing it. I just wish we would’ve known sooner. I’m going to miss this house; it has a lot of good memories. But it’s old; I think it was made in the 1970s, so it’s not in the best shape.”
Nerio hopes that the university makes some kind of compensation for himself and his roommates.
“I really do think that we should be discounted on campus housing because … we were living here because it is the cheapest living on campus,” he said. “I really can’t afford to take a lot of hours and live in an expensive apartment. I fear now that I have to take minimum 12 hours just to live on campus and not lose my financial aid, which will probably set me back on graduation.”
Although he is concerned about the future, he said he and his roommate have, “Taken a back seat and are going to see where all this leads. Hopefully, it will all work out.”
Martin assures that students will have plenty of opportunities to get new housing.
He said, “We will do everything in our power to help them move in every way. We were just as surprised as they were.”