Poughkeepsie’s West Cedar Street Through the Eyes of Long-Time Residents
In 1977, Poughkeepsie’s West Cedar Street was the perfect place for Mr. and Mrs. Mike and Enga Crocco to raise their family. Everything from the mall, to great restaurants, to their children’s school was within a five-mile radius of their new home
Fast-forward 36 years to 2013, however, and life on West Cedar had really changed due to the expansion of Marist College, located just seconds down the road. It had changed so much, in fact, that Mr. and Mrs. Crocco finally made the difficult decision to sell their first home and move to nearby Hyde Park.
Back in 1977, West Cedar and the rest of the neighborhood was a family-friendly environment.
“All of our neighbors were young families with children close in age to our own,” Mrs. Crocco said. “Fairview Park was a two-minute walk up the road, so we always knew where our kids and their friends were playing.”
“Everyone was always so friendly. Our neighbors became like our family, and we even enjoyed some of the Marist students,” Mr. Crocco said.
He mentioned Rik Smits, a star basketball player from Marist at the time who would often ride his bicycle up and down the street, mingling with the children and even playing basketball with them at the park.
As Marist expanded, though, this friendly relationship and others like it proved to cause more harm than good for family-life on West Cedar.
Mrs. Crocco explained that, within the last 10 years or so, the on-campus townhouses, which began at the beginning of West Cedar Street have worked their way up to the top, where the Croccos’ home was.
As that expansion happened, the Croccos began to notice changes in who their neighbors were. The families they had been surrounded by for the past 30 years were moving out and being replaced by students from the college.
This change became more evident and profound as time progressed.
“At first it wasn’t so bad. Only a few of our neighbors were students for a while” Mr. Crocco said. “Over time, though, every street surrounding us filled with students. East Cedar, Fairview, Lake, Fulton — those all used to be our friends. Now, they’re all almost totally occupied by students.”
The couple remarked that it wouldn’t have been so bad, though, if the students were a bit more courteous.
“Cabs would pull up at all hours of the night for parties, and the students weren’t quiet,” Mr. Crocco said.
Mrs. Crocco agreed, saying, “[a]fter a while, I couldn’t take being woken up at 3 a.m. by kids screaming in the streets after a night out. Then the next day, we’d wake up with kids passed out on our lawn.”
She explained that she didn’t ever blame the students, though, because she understood that they were having fun and living out their college experiences.
While the couple did their best to avoid causing ill will between themselves and the students, they decided they simply couldn’t live on West Cedar after what it had become.
“The decision to move was terribly hard. We loved the house. It was our first home together so we had an emotional attachment,” Mrs. Crocco said. “But going from what the neighborhood was to what it is now is a total 180.”
Three years ago, the Croccos moved to a quiet area of Hyde Park, where their children and grandchildren visit frequently, void of any commotion from students.
They still own their home on West Cedar, but now, as landlords. They rent it out each year to — here’s the catch — Marist students.
“Our only hope,” Mrs. Crocco said, “is that those who live in our home treat it — and us — with the respect and care that we treated it with for 36 years.”