Two representatives of the Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps (WVAC) attended the June 20 Board of Selectmen (BOS) meeting and made a compelling case for prioritizing the needs for improvements to its Town Hall campus headquarters.
WVAC treasurer Betsy Wallon and vice president Libby Nagle vividly described the woeful condition and insufficient capacity of WVAC’s main facility and its garage.
“Both structures have long outlived their usefulness. It’s just not safe and efficient for us to use them,” Wallon said. “That’s why we’re here tonight — to make you aware of our needs and to consider us in any plans going forward with the Town of Wilton and the Town Hall campus.”
The WVAC’s full presentation can be found in a document posted on the Town website. Among the issues with the facilities Wallon and Nagle cited:
- inadequate space for meetings, storage, workstations and sleeping areas
- facilities that are “dangerously” not to building codes, with electrical and plumbing issues as well as outdated kitchen and bathrooms
- garage space that cannot fit all four of the organization’s vehicles
The WVAC, which operates as a nonprofit 501(c) corporation, has concluded the “needs of the volunteer membership, and the Town, are not being met with the current headquarters facility.”
“WVAC sees tremendous value in being in close vicinity to [the Wilton Police Department] and [Wilton Fire Department], with the ability to leverage the emergency traffic light,” according to the presentation.
First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said a needs assessment for schools and municipal buildings, just getting underway, is an important starting point.
“When we get through that process, we’ll have a better sense for what we’re dealing with on the Town Hall campus,” she told Wallon and Nagle.
“[The WVAC] is an extremely invaluable service,” Vanderslice continued, noting that without the WVAC, Wilton residents would suffer long response times from other ambulance services.
The needs assessment is expected to be completed this fall. It is being funded through funds the Town received through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The BOS approved a contract for the work, starting with the school buildings, at the June 20 meeting.
More BOS News
The selectmen addressed several other topics at the June 20 meeting:
- The BOS has scheduled a Special Meeting on June 28 at 4 p.m. Topics are expected to include, among other things, a contract for plans for Merwin Meadows playground renovations, which will be discussed at the June 21 Parks and Recreation Commission meeting. The Parks & Rec meeting will also include discussions about the Town’s priorities for Wilton’s playing fields in light of the defeat of the bonding referendum for a proposed turf field at the 2023 Annual Town Meeting. Vanderslice is expected to attend the Parks & Rec meeting.
- The selectmen unanimously voted to appoint Kathleen Poirier to fill a vacancy on the Architectural Review Board (ARB). Poirier previously served on the police headquarters and Town Hall building committee.
- Wilton Police Chief Tom Conlan presented two new change orders to the Town’s emergency communications system upgrade, currently in progress. Overall, the project remains below budget, and the additional costs associated with the change orders fall within the project’s contingency funds. The selectmen approved the change orders pending some investigation of more cost-efficient alternatives.
- Town Administrator Matt Knickerbocker requested approval to submit a grant application for replacing a passenger van for the Parks and Recreation Department Dial-a-Ride program with one that offers wheelchair accessibility.
- Vanderslice spoke briefly about WESTCOG plans for a regional firing range for member police departments. Wilton is being considered as a site, along with Newtown. None of the 18 member towns have taken votes whether to participate, but Vanderslice reported a general consensus by the municipalities to move forward with planning, especially since grant money could have a significant impact on the feasibility of a new facility.
- Michael Russok, a member of the Conservation Commission’s Deer Management Committee, updated the board on plans for the 2023 controlled deer hunt, which the BOS approved. Details including dates and hunt locations can be found on the Town website.
- The selectmen deliberated ways to handle a potential $35,000 cut to the Wilton Library Association grant which the BOS has been considering as a result of cuts made by the Board of Finance to the proposed BOS budget for FY2024. The selectmen agreed to cut the WLA grant by $10,000 and will keep the remaining $25,000 on the BOS budget reserve line. The board further agreed to review the WLA and BOS budgets after six months to see if either budget has favorability at that time.
- Vanderslice is seeking to assemble a committee to help guide plans for the historic Yellow House at Ambler Farm. The house is in need of extensive renovations —including lead paint abatement on the interior and exterior of the house — creating significant challenges for preservation efforts.