Wilton’s Board of Selectmen (BOS) kicked off the first full week of August by addressing several matters at the board’s regular meeting on Monday evening, Aug. 7.
First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice began the meeting with a request to add an executive session for the purpose of discussing “a possible land sale.” Executive sessions are not open to the public.
Prior to moving to the executive session, the selectmen discussed a number of ongoing matters, including various grant applications, the proposed Verizon cell tower, Scribner Hill Rd. repairs, and other business.
STEAP Grant Application
As part of the Town’s commitment to pursuing grants to fund municipal projects, the BOS has identified a potential $500,000 grant from Connecticut’s Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) that could be applied to the roughly $16.4 million cost of the new police department headquarters.
To apply for the grant, the BOS must first adopt a resolution authorizing Vanderslice to accept the grant monies, if awarded. The selectmen unanimously agreed to a motion to give Vanderslice the authority “to apply for and accept on behalf of the Town a CT STEAP grant in the amount of up to $500,000 for the construction of a police emergency response team garage bay, a covered parking area for police vehicles, and support for future electric vehicles.”
Vanderslice was optimistic the full amount might be awarded, based on Wilton’s past success in receiving other STEAP grants, such as for the pedestrian bridge connecting the train station and Wilton Center.
However, in an unexpected announcement, Vanderslice also informed the selectmen of the “disappointing news” that a $938,000 congressional spending grant recommended by senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal — which would have been applied to the cost of the emergency operations center at the new police headquarters — did not make it through the appropriations process.
“Grant recommendations had to be withdrawn and we didn’t make the cut,” Vanderslice said, emphasizing that the setback would not deter efforts to secure more grants.
Verizon Cell Tower Update
Vanderslice reported the deadline for the Connecticut Siting Council‘s decision on the proposed Verizon cell tower has been extended to October 1, due to delays in obtaining transcripts of public hearings.
“Realistically, that tower is not going to be built until 2024,” Vanderslice said. “The good news is, I don’t anticipate we’re going to have any issues in terms of the acceptance.”
If approved, the new cell tower will be located near the school bus depot property at 130 School Rd., opposite Middlebrook School.
Scribner Hill Rd. Repair
The board approved a contract with Cardinal Engineering Associates, Inc., for design services for an area on Scribner Hill Rd. in need of “slope stabilization.” A portion of the road was reduced to an alternating single lane during the summer of 2022 when it was determined that a portion of the road and the hill had become unstable.
According to the contract, “The project area is located on Scribner Hill Road approximately 850 feet north of Blue Ridge Road and is approximately 250 feet in length. The slope failure occurred along the eastern downhill embankment. A section of roadway has failed as well. The project involves providing civil engineering design services to provide a repair of the embankment and to prevent future failures.”
The contracted amount is $105,000. Vanderslice pointed out that the cost is lower than the $127,000 approved by voters at the 2023 Annual Town Meeting (ATM).
Once the design phase is complete, the construction work will be put out for bid. As noted at the ATM, the total project cost, including construction, was estimated at roughly $1.8 million.
Wilton Youth Council Grant
In partnership with the Town as a “local prevention council,” Wilton Youth Council is seeking a state grant in the amount of $4,152.79. The funds will be used for a campaign to reduce vaping. The grant application outlined two key goals:
- Reduce vaping use rates by 5% by 2025 among 12-18 year-olds
- Increase public awareness of vaping risks and prevention
Emergency Communications System Upgrade
The board unanimously approved an amendment to the contract with the state’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection for the Town’s emergency communications system upgrade.
As explained by Wilton Police Chief Tom Conlon, the amendment pertains to “a couple pieces of equipment” to be located on a communications tower at 46 Fenwood Ln.
Dump Truck Purchase
The selectmen approved a bid from Gengras Ford in Plainville for a 2023 Ford F-550 truck equipped with a stainless steel dump body and a ten-foot municipal plow, at a total cost of $98,337.10.
After publicizing various vacancies on Town boards, Vanderslice reported that a candidate has been identified for possible appointment to the Conservation Commission, in addition to a candidate for the Housing Committee. The BOS will interview the candidates before voting to appoint them.
Selectman Ross Tartell noted that information on how to volunteer for a Town board or commission was recently added to the Town website home-page for easy access by residents.