Schenck’s-Merwin project out for RFQ

The town has published a request for qualifications seeking a designer to gather public input and develop a proposal for the optimal use of Schenck’s Island and Merwin Meadows, two town parks at either end of Wilton Center.

The town is seeking a professional to develop a plan for the renovation and connection of the two parks. Interested professionals must submit their response by May 1.

The deadline to submit a proposal to the Schenck’s Island Merwin Meadows Study Committee is Oct. 31. First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice announced the RFQ at the Board of Selectmen meeting on March 19.

The committee is seeking a design to make the parks more welcoming for people of all ages. Along with improving the aesthetics and physical structures of each park, it is seeking a design that encourages community activities.

After months of study last year on a biweekly basis, the Schenck’s Island Merwin Meadows Study Committee reported last Oct. 23 it was ready to seek a planning consultant who could execute that vision.

Dan Berg, an economic development commissioner who is chairman of the study committee, reported at the time to the Board of Selectmen that vision includes recreational uses at Merwin and outdoor activities such as 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 at the time. “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 by the parking lot mowed for a community gathering space like a concert glen. There could be logs and berms for children to climb on.

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

The Board of Selectmen approved the committee in November 2016. 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 could enhance economic development in Wilton Center.

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.