Now that the Board of Selectmen (BOS) adopted First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice‘s budget proposal for FY2024, the board members have turned their attention to another key component of overall Town spending: bonded capital requests.
At the Monday, March 6 BOS meeting, Vanderslice presented a “first draft” of a five-year schedule of bonded capital requests. (The document she presented can also be found on the Town website.)
“This is to just get the message out there,” Vanderslice said. “The question is, how much can [the Town] spend on an annual basis and have bonding that you can afford?”
The draft plan will be impacted by a 10-year Master Plan — currently underway and being led by Wilton’s Department of Public Works (DPW) — which is expected to reveal more concrete direction on investments that will be needed in both municipal and school district building infrastructure over the next several years.
Under the draft plan, the dollar amount of bonded projects requested for FY2024 would be $4,132,000. Vanderslice noted that is considerably less than the $19 million in bonding approved by Wilton in FY2023.
Of the roughly $4.1 million for FY2024:
- $2 million (nearly half of the FY2024 total) would be for a new turf field at Allen’s Meadow. Vanderslice called that number “a placeholder” until pre-pandemic cost estimates are updated and the Wilton Athletic and Recreation Foundation (WARF) determines what private fundraising might be possible.
- $950,000 would be for a replacement fire engine.
- Just over $1 million would be for projects within the school district ($780,000 for ongoing roof work and $275,000 for elevator replacement).
Over five years, the bonded capital requests could amount to $40,757,348, including:
- $12.9 million for roads and bridges
- $5 million for municipal buildings
- $1 million to replace the high school turf field (estimated for FY2027)
- $18.9 million for school district projects such as roof replacements; floor tiles, lighting and ceiling tiles at Middlebrook and WHS; elevators at Cider Mill at WHS and various other infrastructure replacements and upgrades, to be identified as part of the 10-year Master Plan
“This is just a first pass,” Vanderslice reminded the board at the conclusion of the discussion.
The BOS must submit specific FY2024 capital requests to the Board of Finance by April 11 in order to present the bonding referendums to voters at the Annual Town Meeting on May 2 and adjourned vote on May 6.
The Board of Finance will hold a public hearing to get resident feedback on the proposed BOS budget and bonded capital projects on on Tuesday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Middlebrook Auditorium.
The BOF has also prepared a taxpayer survey seeking feedback on taxes and town and school spending; the survey is scheduled to be released to the public this week.
More BOS Action
At the March 6 meeting, the BOS also took action on a number of other fronts:
- Union grievances: After confidentially discussing the matter in executive session, the board unanimously voted to deny two grievances filed by Firefighters Union Local No. 2233 pertaining to the mandatory retirement age and related pension benefits.
- Verizon lease: Attorney Doug LoMonte explained the details of an amendment to the lease agreement with Verizon for the proposed cell tower on Town-owned property near the school bus depot at 180 School Rd. The amendment revises the tower’s original location and allows for access to the tower compound. Under the new agreement, Verizon would be permitted to construct a monopole tower in lieu of the more tree-like “monopine” design if that is required by the Connecticut Siting Council during the application process. The board unanimously approved the amendment.
- New turf/bubble: the board approved a contract with Land-Tech Consultants Inc. to conduct a preliminary study for the design of a new turf field with a seasonal bubble at Allen’s Meadow. The contract price is $26,350 plus up to $1,500 in other expenses.
- Wilton High School sports complex storm mitigation: the board approved an addendum to a contract with Stantec Consulting Services for Phase 2 of the drainage improvement project planned as a result of extensive damage from Hurricane Ida in Sept. 2021. Phase 1 installed a berm to divert water while Phase 2 will involve a drainage pipe around the football stadium, at a cost of $79,900.
- New wood chipper: the board approved a contract with Bobcat of Stratford for new chipper equipment for DPW at a price of $85,260. The amount will be funded through a reallocation of previously approved DPW funds.
- Arrowhead Bridge: the board approved a contract with Brunalli Construction for the planned replacement of the Arrowhead Bridge over the Norwalk River at a cost of $2,629,792.
- Cyber-security assessment: At the recommendation of Town Administrator Matt Knickerbocker, the board approved a contract with Whittlesey Technology for conducting a cyber-security assessment of Town operations, including a network vulnerability analysis; cyber-security best practices; business continuity and backup assessment; wireless security; test of staff susceptibility to phishing; and more. According to the contract, deliverables will include “a report of all network vulnerability findings and any recommendations for improving [Wilton’s] cybersecurity posture and compliance” and a “remediation matrix intended to be used as [a] corrective action plan.” The cost of the assessment is estimated at $12,500.
- Historic preservation grant: Knickerbocker also updated the board on a Historic Preservation Grant received by the Town Clerk‘s office. According to the grant application, the grant money — along with money from the Town Clerk’s discretionary fund — will be used “to continue organizing and updating our vault and storing files properly” in an “ongoing project which will take place over the next few years.”
I didn’t realize the turf field would be coming up for a bonding vote this year – the opportunity to block that particular money-wasting environmental disaster could be a great incentive for people to show up and cast town meeting ballots.
(you’d think that the lack of private donations would have demonstrated that it’s not something many people in Wilton want, but I guess that wasn’t enough to persuade the BoS)
Please don’t spend money on a toxic field for children to play on! This is madness!
A toxic turf field is not something to waste money on now or ever, and not with an ugly bubble! Why would anyone want something like that on beautiful Allen’s Meadows with nature and gardens and trails?
$2,850,000 on artificial turf in 2024 between Allen Mdws and WHS field? NO.
BOS – your predecessors were warned against artificial turf when the WHS field was up for discussion but they went ahead, pressed no doubt by football and lacrosse parent clubs. Foolish then, super foolish to keep spending on it. Put out to bid to a local lawn service firm(s) about the cost of seeding and mowing – and leave it at that. They should be proud to offer a reduced cost of both for advertising at the stadium and the new residential accounts forthcoming from boosters and grateful taxpayers.
If you haven’t noticed, leading professional sports teams have gone natural grass.
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