After rough start, The Cottages without major incident

By Brian Ward
On November 16, 2012

At the beginning of the semester, The Cottages of Durham had problems with out-of-control parties and transportation woes. But after a few months, the residents of the area think that things have calmed down and will continue to get better.

Nick Grafton, a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity at UNH, moved to The Cottages on the word of his friends.

"It seemed like a good idea, 'cause we [Sigma Chi] didn't have a house. This gave us an unofficial place where we could hang out and have meetings," Grafton said.

Grafton said that while he thought The Cottages have some issues, he thinks that the good outweighs the bad, naming the clubhouse and the community atmosphere - in particular - as pluses.

"I'm having a lot of fun here," he said. "Some things suck, like the buses, but we can't control that. I also didn't expect to be so close to my neighbors when I signed the lease, so there's a plus to it."

Earlier in the semester, University Transportation Services (UTS), the university-run service contracted to provide transportation to and from the development, eliminated weekend buses due to numerous incidents, including students attempting to flip over a bus. Grafton said that the limited amount of bus times has been a problem, but that he doesn't think it will last.

"That was [an] unfortunate event. I don't know why anyone would flip a bus in the first place. I feel it (the buses) will come back, but for the time being I can understand. They don't want any more buses flipped," Grafton said.

Grafton said that for him, the best thing about living at The Cottages is the houses themselves, and that he will have high expectations for any future place he will live. He also said he thinks that as time progresses, the problems from the beginning of the year will continue to diminish.

"I feel like at the beginning of the year people were acting like, 'This is The Cottages, I'm going to party every day!' and now they're settling down to The Cottages' rules. It's definitely calmed down," Grafton said.

As much as he likes where he lives, Grafton plans to move out next semester so he can be closer to campus and so he will not have to deal with transportation issues. He also said his decision is also influenced by finances, as his apartment is currently costing him around $6,700 plus utilities per semester.

"The price isn't bad for what they're giving us, but a person in my position can't keep paying this," Grafton said.

Another member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, Nick Tzavalas, moved to The Cottages with his fraternity brothers, as well. He said that life in The Cottages has been very beneficial to the fraternity.

 "We definitely achieved our goal of becoming a brotherhood," Tzavalas said. "We wanted a central location where we can all hang out, have barbeques, and invite alumni to someplace I'm okay bringing my parents to," Tzavalas said.

Tzavalas said that he enjoys living in The Cottages, particularly because he is able to live in a single bedroom with a queen-sized bed. However, he indicated that he did have some worries when he first moved in.

 "In the beginning of the year, there were some problems. They [The Cottages management and UTS] took away the clubhouse, took away the buses," Tzavalas said. "That was scary. I thought they would keep taking things away.

"The bus situation and the driving [are a challenge]. You have to get on a bus a half-hour early for class. Sometimes you have to wait 20-plus minutes, which is going to be rough when it gets colder," Tzavalas said.

Despite the busing problems, Tzavalas said that he still enjoys living together with his friends.

 "It's good. We have a bunch of friends here. I have a bunch of friends from the tennis team and from class I've known since the beginning of school who've seemed to have moved out here, as well. I'm two minutes from close friends," Tzavalas said.

Tzavalas went on to say that aside from a few events, there haven't been a lot of events aimed at fostering the community yet. He said he hopes to see more of them in the future.

"If I was a freshman, sophomore living here, I don't think I could go back to living in an apartment on campus sharing a double, having a landlord. This is the perfect way to finish off senior year," Tzavalas said.

Alex Seiger is an electrical engineering major who moved to The Cottages when a friend offered him a spot in his house. According to him, signing up to live in The Cottages was easy and if he were given the choice, he would choose to live in The Cottages again.

"I just got tired of living in the dorms, [and] tired of living with a roommate, even though my roommate was my best friend," Seiger said.

One of the things that Seiger likes about The Cottages is how close it is to campus compared to other apartments. However, he said that the lack of buses has left him trapped after classes on more than one occasion.  

"My main concern is the fact that the bus ends way too early on weekdays. It would be better if it ran like the Gables bus. I get stranded on campus sometimes," Seiger said.

Seiger said that while his class work doesn't allow him a lot of time to interact with his neighbors, amenities such as the hot tub and the clubhouse helps with The Cottage's community atmosphere. While Seiger thinks the hot tub is "gorgeous," it is not the best thing about the living at The Cottages.

"Honestly, it's the fact that I have my own bed, bathroom, walk-in closet and don't have to worry about someone else waking me up in the morning or me waking someone else up," Seiger said.

According to Seiger, things have calmed down after the craziness at the beginning of the year, and now he is happy that he moved in.

"I'm not always ecstatic about it when I talk to my friends, but it's a pretty sweet place to live," Seiger said.

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