Just before the end of 2022, Congress passed the $1.7 trillion Fiscal Year 2023 omnibus appropriations bill and President Biden signed it into law. That bill included nearly $24 million secured by Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) for community projects in Fairfield County — among which were two that will benefit Wilton.
The bill earmarked $1,425,000 for the Town of Wilton to enhance the storm sewer system surrounding the stadium turf at the Wilton High School sports complex.
In addition, the Riverbrook Regional YMCA received $2,000,000 as part of its capital campaign to build a South Norwalk branch. The Riverbrook Regional YMCA encompasses both the Wilton Family YMCA as well as the Norwalk service area, and YMCA officials are currently fundraising to build a brick-and-mortar home for a South Norwalk community center.
Himes is quoted in the release saying, “I am thrilled that this year’s omnibus includes funding for the 14 projects that I fought for, and that this legislation will make a substantive impact for families throughout Southwest Connecticut.”
In a message to residents First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice thanked Himes for his advocacy for the project. “We are extremely appreciative to Congressman Himes and his staff for their efforts leading to this award.
Storm Sewer System at WHS Sports Complex
The WHS Sports Complex fields suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Ida in September 2021. Soil, branches and debris from the hill behind Fujitani Stadium overwhelmed a drainage watercourse behind the bleachers, depositing a muddy mess onto the just-installed track and newly refurbished turf field. Water and debris continued coursing onto the fields to the south end of the stadium reaching as far as the youth baseball field.
The $300,000 cleanup and restoration costs were mostly reimbursed by FEMA, but the Town felt the impact in another significant way: the fields and track had to be closed for six weeks, disrupting numerous youth and school sports teams as well as residents who enjoy the use of the facilities.
Wilton’s Department of Public Works Director and Town Engineer Frank Smeriglio updated town officials at the April 6, 2022 Board of Selectmen (BOS) meeting on various plans and options for improving the conditions.
The town hired Stantec Consulting Services to conduct a study of the sewer system and the surrounding area to identify potential mitigation strategies that might prevent such damage in the future, especially as the frequency and intensity of storms are expected to increase.
Now, the town will be able to proceed with Stantec’s recommendations, thanks to the omnibus funding.
Vanderslice praised the individuals who prepared the grant application in what she called a “highly competitive” process.
“I’d like to acknowledge the contributions of Frank Smeriglio, who was responsible for the application, part-time employee Patricia Brandt, who utilized her prior professional grant writing experience to assist Frank with the application, and Former P[lanning] & Zoning Commission Chair, current Amenities Master Planning Subcommittee member and [Wilton Athletic Recreation Foundation] WARF Government Liaison Scott Lawrence for his valuable testimony in support of the award.”