From Town Hall: Town of Wilton summer projects
The summer is upon us with the school year finished and residents will soon be escaping on vacation getaways. Consequently, it is timely to provide the community with an updated status report on a number of town projects. While most of the following projects have been commented on at various Board of Selectmen’s meetings, this report will provide an update as of July 1, 2015.
Wilton train station — pedestrian walkway project
After several application submissions over a three- to four-year period, the town obtained a CT Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant for $500,000. This exciting project, that will connect the train station to the village, will be a major asset to the community when constructed.
Tighe and Bond has been selected to provide civil engineering and consultant services and the contract has now been approved by the state. Tighe and Bond has a substantial amount of experience relating to a number of other Norwalk River-related projects and has started on the design phase, which will require approvals from a number of government agencies such as state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), state Department of Transportation (DOT), US Army Corps of Engineers, Metro-North, etc. This process will take about six to nine months with construction expected to begin in late spring/early summer of 2016. Installing the pre-fabricated pedestrian bridge will take about three months, and will include lighting, benches, landscaping and signage. When completed, pedestrians will have convenient direct access from the train station to Wilton Center and vice versa.
Wilton Center sidewalk restoration and improvement
Last year, Wilton was also successful in obtaining a $425,000 “Main Street” grant from Connecticut’s’ Department of Housing to restore and improve the village center’s sidewalks, which will improve pedestrian safety and also the visual streetscape and aesthetics of the village shopping areas. Brick facings and safety features will be added in many areas, old sidewalk sections replaced and additional sidewalk sections constructed.
The town has complied with the initial administrative requirements, selected a landscape and engineering design firm (Langan Engineering and Environmental Services) and has just received the initial sidewalk design plans for the center, which will all take place in the town’s right of way. Plans are to be communicated to the Board of Selectmen and Village District Committee, plus briefings of the Chamber of Commerce, police department and Norwalk River Valley Trail representatives.
Design plans will also be submitted to the Department of Housing for required approval prior to going out with an RFP to various contractors. Our goal, hopefully, is to contract for the construction in August, which is the lowest traffic month in the town due to vacation absences. This is another exciting project that will dramatically improve Wilton Center and make the village a more attractive shopping, dining and entertainment destination.
Natural gas expansion project — Wolfpit Road to Miller Driscoll School
As earlier announced, this project started on June 17, 2015 and will be completed on or before Aug. 15, 2015 prior to the schools re-opening. This project will also provide an opportunity for Wolfpit Road residents to connect to the main line, if they wish to convert to gas fuel. Eversource representatives are contacting residents, as it is critically important to connect before the state Department of Transportation repaves Wolfpit Road, which most likely will occur in September. (When plans are finalized, the town will publish information and exact paving dates).
Eversource is also in the process, as originally planned, of installing lateral connections to buildings along River Road, which is the primary reason why the road has not been repaved. A secondary reason involves the sidewalk restoration and improvement project. This work must first be completed before repaving can take place due to planned sidewalk and safety improvements.
We respectfully ask for everyone’s patience and understanding during this period of construction and sequence of village improvement activity.
Town of Wilton road restoration program
During the first three years of the special five-year program to repave 50 miles of Wilton’s roads (that collectively, as citizens, we all own), the town paved 33 miles of town roads. The fourth year of the program is well underway with roads completed to date and roads — planned to be repaved — posted and updated regularly on the town’s website. Last winter’s brutal weather conditions damaged many roads in Fairfield County. The state and all municipalities have been making repairs as quickly as possible and this local repair work has also burdened Wilton’s Department of Public Works (DPW). However, we have had good cooperation from citizens who at the town’s request have reported serious potholes or other road damage, which has allowed DPW in many cases to respond quickly to make repairs.
Municipal sculpture program
A second piece of municipal sculpture was recently installed on River Road. With collaboration from the Silvermine Art Center, an abstract steel sculpture piece titled Konnected has been loaned to the town at no cost for a one-year period by Carole Eisner, an internationally acclaimed sculptor with an extensive portfolio of work that has been displayed in many museums, cultural centers and corporate collections. We are most grateful to Carole and the Silvermine Arts Center for their active cooperation and generosity.
The program’s objective is to make our town center more visually and artistically appealing for our citizens and visitors. Over many years, the citizens of Wilton have been great supporters of the visual and performing arts and the comments received have been very supportive. As Jeff Mueller, gallery director of the Silvermine Art Center stated: “Art should be a part of your daily life. Art isn’t outside of your life, it’s part of your life.”
Village Center holiday decorations
It was evident last year that the lamppost ribbons and other holiday decorations were reaching the end of their useful life! A small committee composed of retail shop owners, real estate services and town representatives was formed to develop a plan to substantially improve the look of the center during the holiday period. Plans to raise the necessary funds to upgrade the village holiday and shopping environments are underway.
More information will be communicated on this project at the end of the summer, but if residents, businesses and the town all cooperate and contribute, Wilton will glow in December!
Periodic updates will continue to be communicated to the community on these important projects. Enjoy the summer.