Students registered to vote in West Lafayette can vote in the city’s municipal elections from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday. All seats but one are contested in this year's election — including the position of mayor. Since the new city leaders will influence Purdue’s campus and students for the next four years, The Exponent took a look back on how the city’s governance has affected campus over the past four years.
State Street project
The $120 million project was one that imagined a complete overhaul of State Street and the surrounding area. Now, with the project completed, new construction projects have spawned off State Street.
The intention of the State Street project was to create a pedestrian-friendly street through the heart of campus as well as calm traffic patterns. The project promised that State Street would be “transformed into an attractive and easy-to-navigate city point of pride," the project’s website says.
The project also added two-way traffic patterns around Chauncey Village, bus stops, bike paths — including a dedicated bike path along the northern side of State Street — outdoor seating and wayfinding. Public art, street trees and the colorful barriers that line the sidewalks around Chauncey Village were also later added.
“It looks 100% better than what it did look,” said Cheryl Alcock, a program administrator for the Center for Career Opportunities. “I think for the student traffic along State Street, with putting up the barriers, so much better than putting up those concrete ones.”
The State Street project also included the redevelopment of Stadium Avenue, which runs by Owen, Cary and Tarkington residence halls. New sidewalks, bus stops, lighting, street trees and landscaping were added to Stadium Avenue, illuminating what used to be a dimly lit roadway.
As construction continues at the Discovery Park district and Chauncey Village, new obstacles are popping up. Over the summer, the city of West Lafayette contracted a company to retime street lights along State Street to adjust for traffic patterns.
“The construction disrupts traffic patterns, walking patterns, everything,” Alcock said.
When the electric scooter company Bird first arrived on Purdue’s campus and the surrounding area, pedestrian and vehicular traffic experienced a near-immediate effect.
After Bird deployed over 3,000 scooters without notifying the city, West Lafayette slapped down regulations in response.
Enter Ordinance 01-19, “An ordinance regulating personal electric or motor powered vehicles and other non-motorized transportation devices.”
The ordinance required any electric scooter company to first submit an application to the city in order for them to deploy its units in the city, including registration fees for each unit as well as a one-year expiration on each permit granted.
The registration fee was an annual $15,000 as well as a $1 per-day per-unit fee.
The ordinance also added a $100 fine for any unit left on a public sidewalk that was not parked in a specifically marked spot and a $10 per day storage fine for every day the unit was held.
In the months following the ordinance, electric scooter company Spin has operated in the city and has been the only company to do so. Gotcha, another electric scooter company, was granted a permit to operate in the city but has delayed its deployment due to logistical delays, according to Erik Carlson, director of development for West Lafayette.
Expanding PAL 3.0
Purdue AirLink 3.0 has gone through many changes during its time on campus, including an expansion that brought Purdue Wi-Fi beyond the limits of campus itself.
The University worked with the city of West Lafayette and Lafayette to expand PAL 3.0 beyond the edge of Purdue to other locations around town in 2015. This change brought students Wi-Fi in places like downtown Lafayette, around State Street and the West Lafayette Public Library.
Other locations PAL 3.0 was made accessible to students include:
- The West Lafayette Police Department
- West Lafayette City Pool
- Celery Bog Nature Center
- Morton Community Center (now under construction to become the new city hall)
- Tapawingo Park
- West Lafayette Parks Office
- Anywhere else the cities provide public Wi-Fi
Students go green
The city signed a resolution adopting the Paris Climate agreement rejected by the federal government in 2017 and has taken steps toward improving its environmental policy since then.
One such measure was a regulation passed three years ago that required all new apartment complexes built to provide recycling for its residents, who are often students.
City Street Commissioner Ben Anderson said in a phone interview that the new regulation applies to new high-rise apartments and includes the Target being built on the corner of Northwestern Avenue and State Street. The rule is not retroactive though, so older apartment complexes with more than four units are not required to provide recycling to residents for the time being.
That might change in the future, Anderson said, but for now students living in complexes built before 2016 can drop off their recycling at 2770 N. 9th St. in Lafayette, the county’s new recycling disposal center.
“We just managed (the old location) for the county,” Anderson said. “We needed the space.”
Because the city needed room to store new city-bought vehicles, the old West Lafayette recycling location was discontinued, causing brief tension in the community as the new site was not open 24/7 and was not as close to campus.
Current hours for the disposal station are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, according to the recycling center's website.
The commissioner said the city hasn’t recieved that many complaints, though.
“We haven’t heard that much,” he said.
The city also used to provide “courtesy dumpsters” for residents at the end of the academic school year, when many students move out of their apartments and need to dispose of garbage, old furniture and other items.
At the end of the 2017-18 school year, the program collected around 40,000 pounds of trash in six dumpsters, Anderson said.
The program has since ended because, despite having “all the signs in the world” around, people the program wasn’t meant for — including those outside of city limits — abused the courtesy dumpsters, Anderson said.
Now students can rent dumpsters from the city for anywhere between $250 to $350 per load and keep the containers for up to seven days, Anderson said. The city isn’t responsible for who fills the dumpsters though, so renters have to keep watch in case neighbors or other residents attempt to dump their trash in the rented dumpster.