During the last Village of Gambier Council meeting on Sept. 4, Mayor Kachen Kimmell mentioned that “Gambier’s ability to meet the needs and house the increasing number of people trying to move to the Village are on the table.”
Young working adults often seek long- or short-term residence in the Village, as do retirees. With the expansion of the College, more Kenyon employees are also trying to move into town.
“However, there are 189 houses in Gambier, and right now, only two are on the market, and there are rarely houses on the market,” Kimmell said. “13 percent of our houses are dedicated to Airbnb, which means that those houses are neither in the market of renting nor are their owners here.”
Including the seven houses built recently, about 25 percent of houses in Gambier are not available for people who are interested in living here.
This issue hints at the exclusivity of Gambier’s housing market. “Houses are known to Kenyon people more by word of mouth, so they do not go on the market,” Kimmell explained. “I am not complaining about this, because I bought my house by word of mouth in 2006.” This style of market makes it difficult for prospective community members to move into the area.
Kimmell also said that it is challenging to build new houses in Gambier. As the town has always been quiet and small with a close community, the increased population sparks worries about a lack of infrastructure in place to handle it. As a result, even though there is a desire for more housing, developers find it difficult to build new houses here. “Some, or even most, of people in our community have the nostalgia of the past quiet community with less traffic and slow life back in the 90s and 80s,” Kimmell stated. “But we can be bigger and grow, and our community should be diverse.”
“This might be a little conservative,” she said, “but I do not think it is appropriate anymore to look at Kenyon in that paternalistic way and say that Kenyon should provide the residential housing here. Gambier should be more generous and welcoming, and 43022 is not a private club.”