Town and University of Connecticut officials and a local property manager are hoping to address off-campus partying with the help of a grant.
The Mansfield Community-Campus Partnership – comprised of town and UConn officials and the property manager of Celeron Square apartments – is receiving a $20,000 state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services as part of the department’s Healthy Campus initiative.
The town will serve as the financial agent for the grant and handle the accounting.
The town council unanimously approved the grant Monday.
Mansfield Human Services Director Kevin Grunwald said the grant will fund a number of initiatives intended to help increase education among tenants at Celeron Square Apartments on Hunting Lodge Road. “The broad goal of this grant is to look at ways to reduce the incidents and the problem” of various issues related to off-campus partying, he said.
He added the grant is more than just additional funding to cover the cost of increased police patrols at peak off-campus party times.
Grunwald said the partnership hopes to begin holding focus groups with tenants at Celeron Square next month to educate them on laws regarding parties.
Celeron is on campus property across from privately owned Carriage House Apartments.
Grunwald said he believes there is a “lack of knowledge” regarding various state laws and local ordinances related to hosting parties and other alcohol issues.
Grunwald also said the goal is to have new initiatives “supplementing” current efforts and to “develop a model” other property managers and landlords can utilize.
The partnership’s grant narrative said initiatives funded by the grant, called Operation Smart Party, “will utilize communication strategies informed by student tenants at Celeron Square” as well as existing partnership resources.
Grunwald added John Sobanik, property manager for Celeron Square and a member of the partnership, has been “very involved” in the process, something he called “very encouraging.” “It really is a partnership,” Grunwald said. Sobanik could not be reached for comment.
UConn spokesman Michael Kirk said the university is also pleased.
“This is a very positive step and the university, as always, looks forward to working closely with the community on this issue,” he said.