Merwin and Schenck’s Island vision ready for formal plan

After months of study on a biweekly basis, the Schenck’s Island Merwin Meadows Study Committee is ready to publish a request for proposals for a planning consultant that can bring the vision of what the parks could be to the public.

Dan Berg, an economic development commissioner who is chairman of the study committee, reported to the Board of Selectmen durings its meeting at town hall Oct. 23 that the vision includes recreational uses at Merwin and outdoor activities including a potential outdoor winter ice rink at Schenck’s Island.

“The overall idea for Merwin remains the same, while Schenck’s is a hugely untapped resource,” Berg told the selectmen. “There could be a temporary ice rink in the winter, potentially with a bonfire going, and have a restaurant bring in a cart with hot chocolate. We would create a Norman Rockwell scene behind Wilton Center.”

There would be no permanent structures. Most of the meadow would be preserved, probably with more trails through it, with an acre mowed by the parking lot for a community gathering space like a concert glen. There could be logs and berms for children to climb on.

“The next step is to put it out to bid,” Berg said. “Then it will get to the point where there’s a plan (with drawings). Then the whole town can look at this.”

The committee has provided the vision. Now the planning firm will provide the costs, with sensitivity to how it could be built in phases. There will be charrettes, meetings where the public will have an opportunity to learn more and comment.

“A town center bookended by two parks is a rare opportunity,” Berg said in conclusion.

The Board of Selectmen approved the committee last November. It is responsible for reviewing the current use and management of Schenck’s Island and Merwin Meadows, evaluating the community’s needs, and exploring how improving the parks can enhance economic development in Wilton Center.

The study got underway because the Parks and Recreation Commission has $10,000 to study Merwin Meadows.

Despite its name, Schenck’s Island is not an island, except when considered as a 17-acre oasis in the middle of town. Most of the park is owned by the town, with three of the southernmost acres belonging to the Wilton Land Conservation Trust.