The University of Connecticut recently disclosed its plans to renovate the former Bergin Correctional Institution, located a few miles away from the main Storrs campus. The Bergin Correctional Institution housed low-security prisoners when it opened in 1989, and was decommissioned in 2011. The site’s proximity to Depot Campus is what drew the school to invest in the area.
Despite the necessary increase in infrastructure, renovations must discernibly take transportation and accessibility of the area into consideration for the majority of students that live on the Storrs campus.
The former prison already possesses ample space with meeting areas and a basketball court depicting a mural of former UConn men’s basketball star and NBA player Richard Hamilton. The plans involve renovating the inmate sleeping quarters into group study rooms and graduate student offices. The main goal of this project is to increase research laboratory space.
UConn Planning Director Beverly Wood said the idea is to simply create spaces for project-based learning, graduate student offices and laboratory space. She explicitly said that what will not be created are student dorms. However, there was no statement that directly spoke to their stance on creating classrooms and lecture halls.
While expanding the infrastructure is necessary with a freshman class that grows in numbers each year, there’s also the need to increase other factors. Besides the issue of renovating a decommissioned, low-security prison that has had limited heating and maintenance in the years since it was closed, there are also issues of transportation to and from Depot Campus.
It is not completely clear what fraction of the student body will be directly affected by these renovations. Consequently, there is no way of knowing how many students will rely on buses to regularly take them to and from Depot Campus. Taking into account the icy winters and the already unreliable bus schedule, there is not a sufficient method of transportation to bring a large amount of students to and from Depot Campus throughout the year.
The completion of this project is still years away as UConn only recently entered the final stages of acquiring this land. However, that is only further perturbed by the fact that UConn has been admitting an increasing number of students each year. By the time of the project’s completion, it is safe to assume that there will be a far greater number of students depending on this transportation.
UConn’s bus system is already barely able to provide the necessary transportation for its current students throughout the year. With the upcoming renovations that place various offices and laboratories further away from campus, coupled with the increase in the number of students, there needs to be a focus on improving the method of transportation provided to the students.