Board of Finance looks to support bridge project

For years, Wilton has been exploring the prospect of constructing a bridge over the Norwalk River to connect the village center to the town's rail station, complete with benches and walkways. The connection would meet an existing gravel path and would effectively be a gateway into downtown.

At Tuesday night's Board of Finance meeting, the board unanimously approved a motion to apply for a recently offered state grant program, in hopes of receiving up to $500,000 in funding for the projected $546,000 project.

That would leavethe town's share of expenses for tasks such as landscaping, placing signs and setting benches — work that may be handled by volunteer labor and the Department of Public Works, further minimizing Wilton's fiscal burden.

State Rep. Gail Lavielle, who sits on the finance board, noted the application may be out of sync with what the state grant, the Main Street Investment Program, was intended for.

The grant program became available several months ago and is primarily intended for reviving and building businesses in small town centers, especially geared toward private-public partnerships for downtown projects such as storefront renovations.

Ms. Lavielle recommended reaching out to surrounding towns that often come to Wilton center for commercial activity, such as Redding and Weston, to ask for input and support.

"This submission by itself won't be as strong as a submission that has a broader field of support with it," she said.

The submission deadline for the state grant is Sept. 29, and the board is also hoping transit-oriented development grants become available in the coming months, although members noted state grants tend to be less complicated and more accessible.