One of the biggest funding questions to come in front of Wilton voters in several years is one of this year’s six bonding referendum questions: Should the Town of Wilton bond $16.4 million for a new police headquarters?
Voters will make that decision this week, starting with the Annual Town Meeting on Tuesday, May 3, at 7 p.m. Voting begins at the conclusion of the meeting, and then it continues Saturday, May 7 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Wilton’s two police captains, Capt. Tom Conlan and Capt. Rob Cipolla, gave GOOD Morning Wilton an up-close tour of what the 50-year-old police station is like, how it has outlived its usefulness and no longer meets current standards of 21st-century police work (nor building code, in some instances).
Jail cells are outdated and aren’t in line with CT state law mandating the separation of juveniles and adults, or differently gendered people. There are no sprinklers or smoke detectors in the building. There is no elevator and the building is not ADA compliant. Beyond that, the building is not functional for the number of people that work there, with some spaces serving more than two or three functions at a time. Multiple officers have to share workstations that overlap with public spaces and the building has a patchwork of repairs or additions to keep up with changes in technology or the demographics of the workforce.
Over the last six years, Wilton town and police officials along with the Town Hall Wilton Police Building committee (made up of residents who work in the fields of law enforcement, construction, engineering, and architecture) have studied whether to renovate and expand the current station or build a new facility. The information they’ve compiled and the new plans drawn up by Tecton Architects (a leading municipal architecture/engineering firm) are available on the project website.
After Wilton voters rejected a proposal to expand the headquarters (as part of a larger overhaul of the municipal campus) in 2004, the facility continued to languish without any significant improvements. Addressing the police station’s deficiencies has become a priority for First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice, who believes the work is long overdue.
“It’s way beyond the need for replacement. The concern is about a failing infrastructure,” Vanderslice told the Board of Finance, which supported her recommendation for the bonding proposal.
Vanderslice also noted that the $16.4 million would not push Wilton beyond debt levels it has historically carried, including the years from 2016-2018 when Wilton paid for major construction at Comstock Community Center and the Miller-Driscoll School.
Moreover, the Police Building Committee published a chart showing how much more the town has spent on facility improvements to other town and school facilities in comparison to what’s been spent on the current police station.
It’s easy for anyone to understand by watching our behind-the-scenes tour of the current police station to see that it no longer meets Wilton’s needs and why the department and town officials hope residents will consider supporting the bonding request to fund a new Wilton Police HQ.
More information can be found on the Police Headquarters website.