Why Does Woodmont Exist?

Woodmont Borough Hall
I've written a couple of Woodmont-centric stories recently, and it got me wondering: why does Woodmont even exist?

Woodmont is a borough inside the city of Milford located (roughly) along between Long Island Sound and New Haven Avenue east of Abigail Street. The state recognizes it as an independent municipality, but look on any Woodmont resident’s license and it says they live in Milford.

The borough has a board of burgesses, which doesn’t have any real statutory authority – they can’t change zoning or pass laws or anything like that. Every Woodmont resident is a subject of both Milford city government – the mayor, the police, the board of aldermen, the school district, etc - and the borough.

That means: double government (quadruple if you count state/federal).

Woodmont residents pay a separate (small) tax that pays for a part-time police officer (actually a Milford cop working on overtime), a library, parks and recreation, and general operational expenses.

So what’s the point of having TWO GOVERNMENTS? Why would anyone find it desirable to live in a place where you have to pay an extra tax, which appears to fund a governmental pretend-party for a group of borough stalwarts? Do you really need more services if the city of Milford already provides you with police, parks and rec, public works, a library, and schools?

Well, I asked burgess Chuck Rockwell this question yesterday. I met him in the old borough hall along Clinton Street (a fairly charming old relic apparently erected as a temporary school during WWII). Woodmont is trying to build a new borough hall – doubling down on its existence – and is angling to get an abandoned fire station from Milford for $1. Meanwhile, another vacant fire station is being sold for over $500,000.

After a bit of back and forth with Rockwell, we got to the heart of the issue. Woodmont exists because:

“If [Woodmont] goes away, then we’ve failed to sustain our community,” is what he told me.

That’s not a direct quote, but it’s what Rockwell meant: Woodmont exists so that people in the neighborhood have something to rally around.

It’s not exactly about having that extra police car in the neighborhood (it’s an extremely safe place) or having a board of burgesses; it’s about preserving that old school, small town New England sense of democracy.

My next question: how long will Woodmont survive? Will the borough continue as all the older residents leave (die or otherwise)?  Will younger residents feel it's worth it paying a couple hundred extra on their tax bills to sustain a governmental mascot for the sake of community? 

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