For the northern section of town, Quinnipiac University is more than an educational institution -- it can be a source of traffic, congestion and clashing with students, many of whom live in residential neighborhoods in homes owned by the university.
At the recent Hamden Chamber of Commerce debate, the three candidates for mayor -- Democratic incumbent Scott Jackson, Republican challenger Matthew Corcoran and Independent candidate Charles Baltayan -- were asked their views on issues dealing with the university.
"Quinnipiac is indeed a valuable resource in town," Baltayan said. "it keeps the corridor along Whitney Avenue very active, though sometimes too active."
He's heard a lot of complaints from residents about the students living in the single-family homes, he said, sometimes as many as five or six students per house despite zoning regulations that prohibit more than four unrelated adults living in a home.
"They say you can tell the Quinnipiac homes because there's five, six or seven out-of-state cars parked in the driveway," he said. "Quinnipiac can't monitor them all, and there has to be better communication between Quinnipiac and the town."
Quinnipiac's construction project that will add 1,400 beds to its dormitory inventory will go a long ways in helping the problem, Jackson said.
"They built them to fill them," he said, and the university is taking steps to make sure they are filled, such as charging less than the rental market's going rate and allowing students over 21 to have alcohol in their rooms.
"They are going to entice them back from the neighborhoods because the neighborhoods are suffering," Jackson said.
The university also needs to make sure students utilize its shuttle service better, Jackson said. Currently, too many students are driving between the school's campuses on Mount Carmel and Sherman avenues, he said.
"Too many Quinnipiac University students are driving between campuses," he said. "We need to see those shuttle buses filled."
But despite the issues, the university is good for the town, Corcoran said, and the town and the school need to work together to find answers for the friction that takes place between students and residents.
"The problems in the neighborhoods is a constant problem," he said. "It can be a really bad fit to have college students living on their own there."
The town also has to do a better job enforcing zoning regulations to avoid the problem of homes housing too many students, he said.
Taking students out of single-family homes and putting them into dorms will help the town in other ways as well, he said.
"Quinnipiac University has been aggressively buying properties on Whitney Avenue," he said. "That takes them off the tax rolls, which can be a challenge for the town."