The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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SMU neighbors speak out

A sign about two feet tall with big bold red letters reads: “Drive like your children live here.” It’s planted in the grass inches away from the curb on Bush Avenue and Sewanee Avenue. The home behind it belongs to the Tyler’s – a family of four with two young children, ages 3 and 6.

Rebecca Tyler said they put the sign up because of the amount of traffic on their street caused by the university. They also have had problems with fast drivers racing through their neighborhood.

“It’s scary for our kids,” she said.

SMU brings a lot of traffic to the neighborhood. The total student enrollment for 2013 was 10,929 with 62 percent of students living off-campus and 38 percent living in university-owned operated or affiliated housing. Including faculty and staff, nearly 12,000 people occupy the campus during the week.

Homeowners say they are sometimes frustrated by the traffic in their neighborhood because they have children. Business owners, on the other hand, don’t complain about the thousands of eager students and faculty ready to spend their money at the places near campus.

The best parts of living near SMU, neighbors said, are walking the tree-lined campus, the proximity to Gerald Ford Stadium and the students themselves.

Maria Bonilla lives on St. John Drive where she’s lived for 3 years. When she has free time she likes to use her neighborhood and the SMU campus to burn calories. She runs through her neighborhood and crosses Mockingbird to run down Bishop Avenue. She was dressed comfortably one day recently for a run through her neighborhood in black tights, a neon pink tank top and all black Nikes. When she wants some company, Bonilla straps her one-year-old twins into their double red stroller so they can enjoy the neighborhood.

She describes her neighborhood as quiet, even though it’s across the street from a busy university. She’s also had a problem with excessive traffic on her street.

“The traffic is ridiculous,” said Bonilla. “There are times people are flying down the street as we are trying to pull out of our driveway.”

She noted that her neighborhood is most busy during 9 a.m. and 5 or 6 p.m. That’s because people from the university are either in a rush to get to campus or ready to get home. They use her neighborhood as a cut-through, instead other busy streets like Mockingbird Lane during rush hour traffic.

Despite the traffic, Bonilla said that she feels safe in her neighborhood and on campus when she’s jogging or walking with her twins. She’s greeted by other joggers on campus and welcomed by students.

Alyson Drennan has lived at her two-story Drexel Street home for a year and half. The home has a circular driveway in front so there isn’t much yard space. Drennan likes to use the available space to garden. Drennan has two children.

“They get a kick out of walking over to the stadium and watching the football games,” said Drennan.

The kids wear their SMU t-shirts to support the Mustangs at the home games. Drennan’s only concern is familiar to people living near the university.

“We haven’t had anything negative,” she said. “The only thing is we have two young children so obviously the traffic on this road is always a little bit of a concern.”

Drennan says she doesn’t think the traffic on her street and people opting to use the neighborhood instead of Mockingbird Lane are because of the university. The area is just congested with a lot of people so the traffic is expected. She describes the campus and her neighborhood as vibrant.

“All of the new developments in the area are great. It’s a beautiful campus,” she said. “I try to do my part by gardening.”

The traffic during the football games is a problem for the neighborhood and a concern that the University Park Police has to deal with.

“We get a lot of calls about the traffic during football games, which is problem we have working around the school,” said Lita Snellgrove, a University Park police officer.

Businesses don’t complain about the traffic that the university brings to the area. The more people traveling in this area means more sales.

Annabelle Ponce, 22, a cashier at Chick-fil-A on Hillcrest and University, said that working around the campus is enjoyable because she can meet a lot of the college students.

“SMU students bring a lot of business to the store. It’s been a positive experience working here,” she said.

The store has had problems in the past with older customers being rude about an order not being correct or not using words of gratitude like, please and thank you, she said. She said the SMU students haven’t caused any problems. They have not been loud or rowdy like stereotypes describing college students.

Even though Tyler said the neighborhood is quiet, she and her family are currently looking to move to another neighborhood in University Park where the neighborhood isn’t overwhelmed with traffic. The Tyler’s had problems with people driving extremely fast through their neighborhood, which is why they put the sign up. Tyler said that people should be more respectful when driving through neighborhoods where young children live and play.

“The traffic in this neighborhood is one of the reasons we decided to move,” said Tyler. “For the safety of our children we just want to be in a neighborhood where less cars drive in and out.”

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