To the editor:
I pass through Ridgefield often. For the past several months, every time I drive down the main street, I admire the new 40,000-sq. ft. library and 3-screen cinema the town is building. When I’m driving north on the Merritt, I can’t help but notice the 102,000-sq. ft. Westport YMCA that is going up. And just this week, I spotted the beautiful new Levitt Pavilion being constructed on their riverfront.
The towns surrounding Wilton realize the benefit of making investments that improve the quality of life for their citizens. And as I look around our town, I fail to see where we have made similar investments. Merwin Meadows has no concessions, old bathrooms, which are often not even open, and a few benches. The Y has not made significant improvements to their facilities in years. Our playing fields are dusty, with nowhere to sit, unpaved parking lots, no food or restrooms. Where is our town pool, ice skating rink, concert venue, modern playground?
This week we will have the opportunity to vote on a bond authorization in the amount of $9,900,000 for renovations to Comstock. The plans call for making the almost 60-year- old building up to code, ie. sprinklers, handicap accessible bathrooms, removal of hazardous materials including lead and asbestos, new windows, an energy-efficient HVAC system, among other things.
I question whether spending $10 million on improving this building is a sound decision. The building itself is underutilized with many empty rooms. A preschool that was there has closed and there has been no discussion of bringing it back. It is not clear how the improvements to the building will increase its use. How many Wilton residents will benefit from the changes? Will it bring more programs and events to the building? Will there be more reasons to go there? A fitness center, classes, performances?
I worry that as surrounding towns are growing and improving, Wilton is lagging behind. Our quality of life, town pride and property values are suffering. Do we need a renovated Comstock, or would we be better off spending $10 million on something else?