Commentary: A pivotal time for Wilton’s future
Companies and developers have many alternatives to expand and invest within and outside Connecticut. Yet several are choosing to expand and invest in Wilton, particularly along Route 7. How we respond as a community will impact the vitality and future of our town.
We are fortunate to have AMSL, a high-tech company, as our largest employer. Unlike the state’s approach with GE, we should work with ASML to enable them to create the new jobs our community and state need.
Wilton requires new investment in diverse housing to help retain residents, to attract couples not yet ready to buy, to support Wilton businesses, restaurants, nonprofits and amenities and to continue to be a desirable, independent community. With creativity and a cooperative spirit, this can be done while still maintaining our natural environment and our history.
Every few weeks I hear about yet another long-time resident and volunteer moving to a surrounding community because Wilton doesn’t have adequate alternatives for those wanting or needing to leave their single-family home. They are relocating to a townhouse in Ridgefield or New Canaan or a smaller home in Norwalk or a new luxury apartment in Norwalk or Shelton. Redding’s Meadow Ridge retirement community is often referred to as Wilton North due to the high number of former Wilton residents living there.
How many times have you heard Wilton parents say, my son or daughter and their spouse can’t afford to live here?
Residents repeatedly ask for more restaurants. Restaurateurs respond that Wilton needs more weeknight diners. Local businesses tell me they need more customers. The library, the Norwalk River Valley Trail, the historical society and other worthy nonprofits indicate they not only need to retain current volunteers and donors, they also need to attract more. In other words, we need to keep our empty nesters and attract new residents.
Most of you are willing to embrace the possibilities for the future. After all, you elected leaders with those sensibilities. Now is the time to make an effort to learn what is being proposed, to communicate with Planning & Zoning, to express your support, and to help shape much-needed growth.
In the coming weeks and months, I expect we will have workable opportunities to address the demand for in-town living and more affordable and luxury empty nester housing and to expand the borders of Wilton Center while improving the look, feel and functionality of this important area of town. Let’s work collaboratively with investors in a positive manner to make a better future for Wilton.
If we don’t do this now, we may not have another chance. Thank you.