Wilton’s Board of Selectmen (BOS) met Monday evening, Dec. 6. It was the first meeting attended by the two, newly elected board members, Kim Healy and Bas Nabulsi.
The new board wasted no time getting down to business.
First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice, who has discussed her infrastructure priorities at length in recent communications with town residents as well as an in-depth interview with GOOD Morning Wilton, began the public meeting with an overview of those priorities, including a discussion of funding.
Vanderslice emphasized that significant investment will be needed over the next few years. She has categorized potential projects as:
- Routine maintenance, such as road paving and roof work on schools
- Projects the Town is required to do, such as updating the emergency communications system
- Deferred projects, namely the need to upgrade police headquarters — a need identified over 20 years
Grants Offer “A Unique Opportunity To Address Infrastructure Needs”
Vanderslice strongly believes the Town is well-positioned to undertake infrastructure investments. She wrote to the board members in advance of the meeting,
“Our efforts over the last few years to increase our access to grants have resulted in approximately $19 million in approved and $2.7 million in pending grants for DPW projects… These grants are augmented by the $5.4 million ARPA [American Rescue Plan Act] grant and the potential $1 million federal earmarked grant. The magnitude and scope of these collective grants provide a unique opportunity for us to address infrastructure needs and enhancement.”
Additionally, Vanderslice wrote, “There are other grant opportunities available or expected to be available in early 2022, many of which will be offered through CT DOT.”
Vanderslice emphasized her favorable outlook during the BOS meeting.
“This is a great opportunity for Wilton,” she said.
Nonetheless, Vanderslice alerted the board that undertaking the numerous infrastructure projects that have been identified “will require resources to manage and administer” both in terms of completing grant applications as well as project management. She indicated the Town may be seeking some temporary personnel to assist in those areas.
Vanderslice credited Assistant Director of Public Works and Town Engineer Frank Smeriglio for having played a key role in securing a number of sizable grants to date.
Smeriglio attended the BOS meeting to report on the status of various DPW projects and associated grants during the BOS meeting. His presentation was not a deep dive on the costs of any specific project, but rather gave the BOS a sense of Wilton’s inventory of such projects. (A detailed spreadsheet can be found on the town website, along with a working copy of a capital spending plan.)
The projects include, among many others, two sections of the Norwalk River Valley Trail and the long-awaited pedestrian bridge connecting Wilton Center to the train station.
Given the sheer number of bridges, culverts and trails, the dollar numbers are high. Smeriglio highlighted just a few key numbers that show the magnitude of the grant money relative to the required cost burden for the Town.
“What’s really important is, if the town pays $3.2 million roughly, that match gets us $19 million. That’s a win-win for the Town,” Smeriglio said.
While the approved grants will be for projects under construction in 2022-2025, Smeriglio is looking beyond that timeframe.
“How we do with these grants will be key to how the state looks at Wilton,” Smeriglio said, as the state considers future grant award decisions for 2025 and beyond.
Election of Second Selectperson
The BOS unanimously chose one of its members, Joshua Cole, for the position of Second Selectman, a role vacated by Lori Bufano at the end of her term. The selection of Second Selectman is required by the Town Charter:
“At the first meeting of a newly elected Board of Selectmen held after a regular election of the Town, the Board of Selectmen shall choose a Selectman to serve as Second Selectman. The Second Selectman shall have all the powers, duties and responsibilities of the First Selectman in the event of a vacancy in the office of First Selectman, until such vacancy is filled as prescribed by this Charter § or other law. In the event that the First Selectman is unable to perform such duties as are required and in the absence of such delegation, the powers of the First Selectman shall be deemed to have been delegated to the Second Selectman.”
Vanderslice believes it’s beneficial for the Second Selectman to be an attorney, as Cole is. Selectman Bas Nabulsi is also an attorney but supported the choice of Cole.
Appointments and Reappointments
The BOS approved the two new selectmen to serve in additional roles within the Town government. Nabulsi will serve as a representative of the BOS on the Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) while Healy will serve as a trustee of the Wilton Other Post-Employment Benefits Committee (OPEB, a three-person committee with membership from the BOS, BOE and BOF).
The BOS appointed Chris Giovino to the Police Commission, and also approved numerous reappointments to various town boards and commissions:
- Brett Amero and Jeff Lapnow — Deer Committee
- Paul VonSteenberg, Charles Ruffel and Warren Serenbetz — Pension Investment Committee
- Kevin Ring, Anna Marie Bilella and John Macken — Parks and Recreation Commission
- Margaret Koellmer and Bettye Ragognetti — Commission on Social Services
- Frank Simone and Colleen O’Brien — Conservation Commission
- Tamara Conway and Elizabeth Edwards — Council on Ethics
- John Hall — Fire Commission
- Adrienne Reedy — Police Commission
- Lori Fusco, Gil Weatherly and Pam Brown (Alternate) — Historic District and Historic Property Commission
More BOS Business
- The BOS authorized Vanderslice to execute two contracts for design services related to various bridges across Town as well as the Musket Ridge culvert
- The BOS approved a grant application for roughly $37,000 in funding for the Town’s DUI enforcement efforts for FY2022
- The BOS authorized Vanderslice to proceed with finalizing a contract for scanning services of Assessor’s Office records
- The BOS heard details from Chief Financial Officer Anne Kelly-Lenz on budget savings from 2021 and potentially 2022, and how those might impact potential infrastructure spending plans and future budgets. Vanderslice revealed that the Town is already beginning to think about next year’s budget. A “quad board” special meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 8, with the BOS, Board of Finance, Board of Ed, and Planning & Zoning.