Wilton COVID-19 Update: Vanderslice Puts Town ‘On Notice’–Gatherings Prohibited, Fines for Trespassing and Better Trail Behavior

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice with a town social distancing sign.

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice released her nightly update about the town’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic for Tuesday, April 7. In it, she put residents “on notice” and warned them against gathering together. She reminded people of the order Gov. Ned. Lamont made almost two weeks ago prohibiting social and recreational gatherings, other than religious ones, of more than five people.

“This applies to all social and recreational gatherings, including sporting events and leisure. It’s become clear, that not all residents are aware of this order. So, from here on forward, everyone is now on notice. The prohibition applies even if you are practicing social distancing,” Vanderslice said.

Speaking of orders, Vanderslice is making her fourth Executive Order on Wednesday, April 8, aimed at stopping people from continuing to flout the restriction on using town fields and facilities. The order will now allow police officers to ticket offenders for trespassing, which carries a $92 fine:

“Effective at 12:01 a.m., Friday, April 10, 2020, the Wilton Police Department will enforce the closing of playing fields and recreation facilities by issuing a trespassing ticket with a fine of $92 to any individual found using the fields and recreational facilities.”

Which fields and facilities are included?

  • Wilton High School and Middlebrook tennis courts
  • Basketball courts at Wilton schools and Comstock Community Center
  • Allen’s Meadows playing fields
  • Lilly Turf Field
  • WHS North Field
  • Guy Whitten Field
  • WHS Stadium Track and Turf Field
  • Middlebrook fields
  • Hurlbutt Street fields
  • WHS and other Town-owned baseball and softball fields
  • Merwin Meadows playground
  • Comstock playground
  • All school playgrounds

Specifically not included in the order, and therefore allowed, but still with social distancing:

  • Residents tending their garden plot at the Community Gardens at Allen’s Meadows
  • Residents walking, jogging or biking through Allen’s Meadows and Merwin Meadows, which are connectors for trails.

Following the rules would go a long way toward helping frontline health care workers and coronavirus patients, Vanderslice said. She said doing so as well as following social distancing practices would be “a gift” to give medical responders.

“Right now, we all have a gift we can give to frontline medical personnel and the next patient needing a ventilator–The gift of a fighting chance. The gift of time. Your actions can either help slow down the growth in cases or speed it up. The choice is yours. Please choose to give that gift. Please follow the rules and behave as if you have the virus and as if those around you do as well,” she wrote.

Better Trail Behavior

Because the Norwalk River Valley Trail has seen a rise in visitors and now faces an increased risk for spreading COVID-19, officials are launching the Explore Wilton Walking Trails Program. The town has a number of trails other than the NRVT, which Vanderslice said, “are less crowded and equally great for walking, running and biking.” She touted a new video that’s being introduced by the town to encourage residents to try new trails in Wilton as alternatives to the NRVT, and added that, as part of the program, “Residents can have fun and win prizes while being socially responsible.”

The program was developed by Wilton’s environmental affairs director, Mike ConklinSarah Gioffre, the coordinator of community affairs for the town; and resident, Dave Cote. Details can be found on the town website!

Vanderslice mentioned that the Friends of the NRVT is asking anyone who does visit the trail with dogs to use a 4-foot leash to better facilitate social distancing.

Other Update Details
  • Vanderslice updated the data issued by the CT Department of Public Health, which “reports 7,781 laboratory-confirmed statewide cases with 4,136 or 53% in Fairfield County and 86 in Wilton. Stamford hit 1,000 today. Approximately 4% of total reported cases have not yet been assigned to a municipality. The number of cases requiring hospitalization increased to 1,308 with 613 in Fairfield County.”

    Anyone who has received a confirmed or presumptive positive test and has not been contacted by the Wilton Health Department is asked to contact the department. Department members are out in the field, and can be reached more quickly through email.

  • “Today, the Governor issued executive order 7V, which among others establishes additional rules for essential businesses and nonprofits, facilitates licenses for healthcare professionals and amends a prior order related to liability.”
  • “Clarity is soon coming to school parents, teachers and staff, as yesterday on a call with leaders from across the state, Commissioner of Education Miguel Cardona stated later in the week he will be providing an update on school closings.”

As always, Vanderslice said residents who have questions can email the appropriate town department or her directly. With most employees working from home, email is the preferred means of communication. Vanderslice has immediate access to email and tries to respond promptly. If residents contact her on Facebook, she notes that her response will be delayed, as she only checks her F S Lynne Vanderslice Facebook account a few times a day, and she doesn’t use Facebook’s Messenger platform.

 

1 COMMENT

  1. As more and more places to get fresh air and exercise are closed and locked, the remaining ones will inevitably become more crowded–especially with everyone home from work. The First Selectman is suggesting the folk make an effort to learn new trails that are typically less used. This may help and may be a good adventure for those up for it, but for many, a time of uncertainty may not be a comfortable time to go exploring unknown trails.
    What I find particularly disturbing in the First Selectman’s comments is her invoking her right to use police power to enforce social distancing (on the trails or anywhere). This is not, if ever there were, a time to embroil the police in an attempt to keep a specific distance between trail users.
    What we should be doing is reopening the fields and making space for people to keep a proper space, while advising them on how to best protect themselves and others in a time of crisis, not running them through a gauntlet while monitoring them with armed patrols.

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