In its first meeting of 2023, the Board of Selectmen (BOS) met Monday, Jan. 9 to discuss a number of construction and repair projects for Town buildings and facilities. The board also made important decisions on how new grants, ARPA funds and the Town’s Infrastructure Improvement Fund are being utilized.

Police Headquarters

Project Manager Chris Burney updated the board on the status of the long-awaited construction of a new police station.

Emphasizing the “specialized” nature of the facility’s purpose and the highly detailed construction documents being prepared, Burney indicated the project is nearly ready to present to the Planning and Zoning Commission for necessary approvals. He would then move quickly to get the bidding process underway.

Burney was confident that the project would come in at or below original cost estimates, and said he is eying the start of construction in early May.

Solar Infrastructure

Burney also gave the selectmen an update on energy savings realized by the Town due to its commitment to solar power beginning in 2018, under Burney’s watch as then DPW Director.

At the Dec. 20 BOS meeting, Vanderslice noted that the Town’s achievements in solar power are worthy of public attention and, to her vexation, were not even a factor in Wilton being awarded the highest level of certification by Sustainable CT.

In his presentation to the BOS, Burney reported that the Town has saved just over $740,000 — including roughly $240,000 from solar panels on Miller-Driscoll and Middlebrook schools’ rooftops and just over $500,000 from Wilton’s participation in virtual net metering.

Town Hall Repairs

Town Administrator Matt Knickerbocker and Assistant Director of Public Works/Facilities Manager Jeff Pardo (in his first appearance at a BOS meeting) have reviewed proposals from various architectural services for the needed repairs to the front exterior of Town Hall, as well as upgrades for the windows and heating system.

Pardo noted a “full frontal restoration” was necessary given the extent of repairs needed to the failing columns and steps, as well as much-needed upgrades to address the inefficient (mostly original) windows and lack of building insulation.

Pardo recommended a proposal by the architectural firm Hibbard and Rosa, which was approved by the selectmen at a cost not to exceed $63,300.

The Board of Selectmen received updates from several Town officials about various ongoing and upcoming projects (clockwise from top left: Town Administrator Matt Knickerbocker, Project Manager Chris Burney, Assistant DPW Director/Facilities Manager Frank Pardo, and DPW Director/Town Engineer Frank Smeriglio) Credit: Town of Wilton Zoom recording, Jan. 9, 2023

WHS Sports Complex Storm Mitigation

In a memo to the selectmen in advance of the BOS meeting, Vanderslice highlighted that the Town had previously approved plans to use ARPA funds for the cost of storm mitigation and drainage improvements at the WHS sports complex. The need for the work was identified after the unprecedented impact of Hurricane Ida in 2021.

However, the Town was recently notified of a congressional member-directed award for that work, secured by Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) in the FY2023 omnibus spending bill recently signed by President Biden. GOOD Morning Wilton reported the details in a separate story,

Status of ARPA and Infrastructure Improvement Funds

In addition to the freed-up ARPA funds that had been set aside for the WHS sports complex storm mitigation effort, Vanderslice noted that approximately $750,000 in FY2022 budget savings has been transferred to the Town’s Infrastructure Improvement Fund (IIF).

The selectmen agreed to fund various requests from Town departments which they were previously unable to approve without the available funds:

  • $300,000 from the IIF to convert the Transfer Station to 300-yard dumpsters (expected to yield cost savings)
  • $150,000 from the IIF for a new, 10-year plan for municipal and school buildings
  • $250,000 from ARPA funds for a new play area at Schenck’s Island
  • $310,000 from ARPA funds for the conversion to the Munis financial software platform as recommended by Knickerbocker and Chief Financial Officer Dawn Norton

More BOS News

  • In executive session, the board discussed the applications of Thanh Tsoi to serve on the Council on Ethics and Tom Sinchak for the Police Commission. Board members voted unanimously to appoint Tsoi for the earliest vacant position on the Council of Ethics, and Sinchak to fill a term on the Police Commission that began on Dec. 1, 2022.
  • The selectmen further discussed moving forward on planned upgrades to the HVAC system at Middlebrook school. The Town will begin by pursuing a federal grant opportunity that might cover part or all of the expected cost.
  • Knickerbocker presented a recommendation for the planned purchase of a new dump truck for DPW. The 2024 Western Star five-ton, six-wheel dump truck has a total purchase price of $276,468. Detailed specifications can be found on the Town website.
  • Knickerbocker also updated the BOS on the Food Scrap Pilot Program, which will begin on Jan. 28 at the Wilton Transfer Station. Residents will be able to bring food scraps to the Transfer Station in an effort to reduce minimal waste. GMW will report on more details of this program as soon as they become available.
  • Wilton is actively seeking qualified candidates for the position of Assessor. A job description has been posted on the Town website.
  • In a continuation of debate as to whether and how the BOS should express support for Wilton’s LGBTQIA+ community, the selectmen resumed discussion of the Town’s existing Civility, Respect and Understanding (CRU) Proclamation along with its policies on banners at Town Hall. Significant public comment was generated. A separate GMW story runs on that today.

One reply on “Moving Ahead on New Police HQ, Town Hall Repairs and Infrastructure Improvements in Focus for BOS as 2023 Starts”

  1. Kathy Bonnist in reporting that the construction for the new police headquarters is going through and starting in May you did not say how much has been allocated for the project. What is the cost that is an important part of the equation that has not been disclosed. You said that it will come in or below budget but what is the budget? That is a very important information that you have omitted.

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