TASC List: The spirit of 2018

There’s a lot of spirit here in Wilton as another season rounds the corner. You can see it under the Friday night lights as you approach Fujitani Field and hear it from the marching band. You can feel it as the veterans pass in review and the color guard stands tall in its traditional and patriotic routines. You can sense it in the electric atmosphere of the annual town meeting and when citizens rise to present their comments at committee gatherings.

The spirit is in evidence at library book sales, garden club displays and in welcoming Santa to the town center. It shows itself in the dedication of emergency response teams, volunteers at pancake breakfasts, and steadfast collectors of petition signatures in support of actions, improvement, and change.

Firemen who patiently describe equipment functions to second graders and prevention cautions to all are dispensers of that important ingredient of collegiality and collaboration toward good and useful ends. Teams that raise money and collect equipment for the less fortunate or otherwise deprived are contributors to a spirit that extends well beyond our own town borders. Such action propagates a spirit of its own.

These few examples are but manifestations of that something underlying a group’s positive energy, enthusiasm, optimism, and outlook — all coming together in a complex mix of attitudes and expectations. That something, spirit, may be hard to measure. But it is certainly worth pursuing. And worth focusing upon. And elevating.

TASC believes that improving spirit in Wilton is not some project for a 10-year planning cycle or a consultant’s “study” or an elaborate committee effort. We believe the implementation effort is right here and near at hand. It can start immediately. And yield beneficial results in a very short time. Here’s the underlying assumption.

Within the domain of the Department of Public Works and Facilities Management and its directorate, are the functions and responsibilities of maintenance and repair, restoration and renovation, upkeep and serviceability. These terms are of course but shorthand for the widespread and dynamic nature of the actual tasks they represent.

Let’s call them simply maintenance and repair. Within the context of town operations M&R drive (result in) appearance and usability (A&U) positive changes and realizable benefits. And they in turn drive improvements among citizenry in pride and presentation (P&P). That is, a resultant populace that feels positive toward, and esteem for, that special place in which we dwell. That’s the influence diagram and drivers for elevating Wilton spirit — aside from some of the more traditional, patriotic, team, volunteer, and civic-minded versions noted above.  

We will start at the M&R point and suggest such actions as: 1) minimizing the deferral of required maintenance projects altogether; 2) disciplined prioritization of the project queue; 3) tightening project justification by requiring objective business cases where appropriate; 4) broadening the outsourced projects base and scrutinizing the bids; and 5) upgrading the inspection process for completed and quality work.

At the A&U point it might be useful to: 1) collect more requests and inputs on line; 2) strive for more consistency in signage appearance and condition; 3) improve roadside trimming and storm-related cleanup; 4) expand volunteer assistance; 5) organize and activate a “quick-fix” team; and 6) quicken pothole repair and lining of the town’s paved road surfaces.    

Under P&P some products of the prior two drivers could be emphasized by: 1) Parks/Rec participation and reinforcement; 2) Realtor brochures/highlights; 3) added public events on improved town spaces; 4) promotion of certain venues in newspapers and on television; 5) expanded use and enforcement of trash and waste removal restrictions; and 6) initiation of fund-raising activities to offset additional costs/expenses incurred.

For balance, it should be noted that several of these suggested areas are either now underway or being considered. In addition, the responsible town directorate does recognize the legitimacy of related concerns and has included in his plans and programs the possibility of providing solutions to some.

We believe that in the overall context of a four-step process, resulting in a renewed and elevated townwide spirit, we can make Wilton a better place, together.

TASC stands for Toward A Stronger Community. Contact: brennerjoe@aol.com