In a Connecticut town, a growing urban area is coming into conflict with the largely rural town it’s in. Is this Storrs in Mansfield? No, it’s Bridgeport in Fairfield, in the year 1800. The conflicts caused by the University of Connecticut’s growth have happened many times before in this state, and over 40 times Connecticut has made use of a common solution: the borough. A borough is a dependent municipality that takes over some services from the town, and is a good way to provide services without forming a new town.
This may seem like a large step for a university, but Clemson is actually incorporated. There are several advantages to becoming a borough, potentially including the power to run schools. This could help the Neag School of Education test out ideas and the ability to have locally controlled police. Police reform has been a big priority for UConn students and faculty.
The main reason for UConn creating a borough, however, is the increasing role of universities within modern society, especially here in Connecticut. By becoming a borough incorporating the northwest corner of Mansfield, the south part of Groton and the areas immediately surrounding UConn Hartford, Waterbury and Stamford, it creates a zone of cooperative governance between UConn and the people who live nearby, taking some responsibilities away from the university and others away from the surrounding towns.
Another reason it would be useful is to create a structure of cooperation with the Native American tribes of the state. Currently, the three state-recognized tribes are denied the right to have casinos. A borough bill in the General Assembly could have provisions for three new casinos run by these tribes at UConn campuses, as well as sovereign territory in UConn Storrs buildings for all five Connecticut tribes.
The international operations of UConn would also benefit as the borough could partner with southeast Connecticut towns to make a joint airport authority operating small planes throughout the world from Groton-New London airport, training students to operate planes and airports while reducing reliance on commercial aviation. The key point of forming a borough is partnership between the university and surrounding areas for mutual benefit, while teaching the next generation how to govern.
To manage the borough, a borough hall is needed. UConn is already planning a parking garage underneath the Sherman complex. This location would also be ideal for a transportation center and borough hall. With an entrance toward central campus, Gampel Pavilion and good bus service (potentially using CTfastrak East), along with lots of parking the borough hall would be easy to get to for anyone using it.