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Off-campus porch incidents raise no resident concern

Kate Gales | Monday, April 5, 2004

While a high profile balcony collapse during a party in Chicago last summer left 13 dead and 30 injured, Notre Dame students said they are not concerned that a similar incident could take place at off-campus apartment complexes.

However, there have been at least three recent incidents where students partying have fallen off of balconies, including at St. Patrick’s Day parties at the College Park apartment complex both this year and last year and a party this fall at the Turtle Creek apartment complex.

For students, these incidents have caused more concern than the possibility of a balcony collapse.

“It has never really crossed our minds – we never have that many people out there that it’s a weight concern,” said Lindsay Wind, a senior who lives in College Park. “Before all of this started to come up, I probably wouldn’t even think about it. Usually it’s not what you’re thinking about when you’re having a party.”

“It’s not something we’re concerned about,” said fellow resident Lindsay Zika. “Most of our friends know how to be safe. People like to hang out there; it’s never been an issue for us.”

Patty Russwurm, a property manager with Paramount Management, the company that manages College Park, said she is not aware of any other incidents at College Park when a partier had fallen off a balcony during the last two years that Paramount has managed the property.

Though less publicized, Turtle Creek Apartments has also faced a problem with irresponsible balcony use, according to property manager Tammy Michelbrink.

“We had an incident this fall, but nobody was seriously injured,” she said.

Both complexes also limit to the number of adults allowed on the balconies – eight at College Park and five at Turtle Creek.

“It is explicitly written out in [residents’] leases that no more than eight people are permitted on the balconies at any time. That’s why the people who weren’t residents were evicted on St. Patrick’s Day,” Russwurm said, regarding the student who fell off the balcony.

Residents of the apartment complex said they had been informed of the limits.

“Our maintenance people told us [about it] at the beginning of the year,” Zika said. “They made it clear that we understood the rules.”

Turtle Creek implements a similar policy, with apartment renters signing an agreement upon moving into the complex.

“We have our residents sign something when they come to move in, [saying] that we don’t expect them to have more than five adults out on the patio at the same time,” Michelbrink said.

The property managers said they do not supervise residents, but are aware that some leaseholders may be using the balconies irresponsibly.

“We have seen people have too many people on their balconies,” Michelbrink said, “but we’re not here to monitor every night to see what they do.”

When it comes to management’s attention that the contracts are being violated with this type of behavior, notices are sent out to offenders, Michelbrink said. Continued problems could cost them their leases.