At Tuesday night’s Nov. 8 special meeting, the Board of Finance (BOF) voted unanimously to approve the Board of Selectmen‘s acceptance of a $3,018,600 grant for extending the Norwalk River Valley Trail (NRVT).
The grant, from the State of Connecticut’s Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program (LOTCIP), will fund the construction of a new section of the NRVT’s North Loop.
The Town collaborated on the grant submission with the NRVT organization, but the NRVT would manage the construction of the trail. The plan is to extend the trail by nine-tenths of one mile from where it currently ends near Skunk Ln. to Pimpewaug Rd. near Cannondale Station.
The BOF did not rubber-stamp the acceptance. First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice made an unplanned appearance during the meeting when it was clear some board members were uncertain about their role in accepting the grant.
Vanderslice clarified that the Town Charter requires the BOF to approve any action by the Board of Selectmen to accept a grant as substantial as the LOTCIP grant.
BOF Vice-chair Stewart Koenigsberg and member Rich Santosky both raised questions before voting on the grant acceptance. [Editor’s note: this story has been updated to clarify which BOF members raised specific questions.]
Santosky asked how any cost overruns or incidentals would be handled, and whether cost estimates for the construction were up-to-date. He also asked if acceptance of the grant obligated the Town to complete the full scope of the planned work.
Koenigsberg, also wary of any potential cost exposure for the Town, questioned whether the BOF acceptance of the grant should be “subject to” an explicit limitation on any cost to the Town.
Vanderslice emphasized that additional costs would be very unlikely, and would be funded by the NRVT, though the BOS could opt to contribute to the trail at its own discretion, possibly with FY2022 budget savings.
“Why would you want to limit it? This is one of the most popular amenities in the Town,” Vanderslice told the BOF members.
While the Town of Wilton will enter an agreement with the NRVT organization in which Wilton will provide some support from Town personnel (such as accounting), Vanderslice said much of those costs would be reimbursed with grant money.
This is the second time the Town of Wilton and the NRVT have successfully collaborated to obtain a state grant. The first collaboration, which also included the City of Norwalk, was for the completion of the WilWalk section of the trail off Wolfpit Rd.