Lewisburg borough considering new laws after HPW cancellation

Nick Salvo

Contributing Writer

Local officials are considering making new policy changes to prepare for a changing downtown dynamic after the University announced an end to its participation in House Party Weekend.

With the on-campus activities during the weekend–which included registered parties and live musical performances–canceled, many students expect the festivities to move off campus and into downtown houses. Lewisburg Mayor Judith Wagner and East Buffalo Township Police Chief Paul Yost also anticipate this shift and plan to take action to ensure a safe environment.

“Word on campus is that there will be a big deal downtown. We have to protect our residents. Safety is our main concern,” Wagner said.

Yost expressed similar concerns, noting that the lack of an official House Party Weekend creates uncertainty regarding when and where downtown parties will occur. Communication between University administration, students, and the borough will allow for the township police department to properly allocate resources to help keep students and residents safe, Yost said.

Yost’s main concern is “student resistance,” which has resulted in downtown riots as recently as 2008. Rioting will only occur if students refuse to cooperate with local officers, Yost said.

Yost referenced changes adopted by the town of Bloomsburg, home of Bloomsburg University, when speculating about possible Lewisburg council ordinances to control downtown parties.

Bloomsburg Town Council instituted an ordinance in 2010 in an attempt to regulate the student-sponsored Block Party Weekend, a weekend noted for large downtown parties and high numbers of arrests. The ordinance required any student at Bloomsburg who is hosting a party involving alcohol and more than 150 people to obtain a permit from the town. The ordinance also instituted strict rules concerning time, security, restroom facilities, and post-party clean up.

While instituting ordinances to curb downtown partying has been debated in Lewisburg Borough Council meetings in previous years, Wagner said that she wants to avoid making a knee jerk decision and instead hopes students will communicate with the borough to determine the best course of action.

The borough will ask for help from students to gather data and allow the council to have an informed debate and reach a reasonable solution, Wagner said.

“We have enjoyed a very good relationship with Bucknell University students,” Wagner said. “It would certainly be great if something really productive came out of this dialogue.”

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