Wilton Center said to be a strength

One of Wilton’s greatest strengths is that it has a dynamic downtown area that is off the main roads and therefore not subject to the traffic jams that occur in neighboring towns, according to 209 residents and visitors who responded to a survey conducted by the Economic Development Commission.

Conversely, the same respondents said one of the town’s weaknesses is that the downtown area is off the main road and does not have as much through traffic of potential customers.

The results after months of work were released Oct. 17 at a meeting of the Board of Selectmen.

“This would be a good time to plug your public forum coming Thursday,” First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice said to Vivian Lee-Shiue, chair of the Economic Development Commission, who delivered a lengthy presentation on the EDC survey results.

The public forum will take place Oct. 20 in the Brubeck Room of Wilton Library at 7:30 p.m.

“We will be presenting the highlights of Parts 1 and 2 of our analytical study, followed by open discussion with the public to solicit ideas on how to execute our recommendations,” said Lee-Shiue. The event will be moderated by Rob Sanders. It is open to the public and all are welcome to join.

The objective of the forum will be to gain public input and ideas on ways in which the commission can execute recommendations that came out of the analytical study that was presented in June.

The session will be composed of three parts: overview of Parts 1 and 2, moderated questions and answers, and moderated open public discussion on the recommendations.

Lee-Shiue and John Kelly, an EDC commissioner, will present the overview of the analytical study.

In the survey of amenities, the EDC found that the highest-rated feature of Wilton is it access to nature, such as walking trails. Respondents believed neighboring towns have less of that.

The lowest-rated amenity is retail, because the town center shopping district is not considered a destination shopping experience.

Ranked side by side, the respondents indicated Wilton has better amenities than Norwalk, Redding and Weston, although not as much in ways like culture as Westport and Ridgefield.

A lack of sewer, water and gas lines is seen as a block to development.

Among the items it asked respondents to answer, on a scale of 1 (lowest/worst) to 5 (highest/best), were health, wellness and social services, private clubs, culture, retail, recreation, infrastructure, nature, and other municipal services.

“The amenities survey takes the qualitative judgment,” Lee-Shiue said.

The survey contains different information than the results of a poll conducted online by The Bulletin in recent weeks. The Bulletin poll asked respondents to indicate what they would like to see more of in Wilton, and most, 24%, said they want more retail stores.

Nightlife bars, a dog park, a concert venue and an ice rink were also high on the wish list.

At the bottom were mixed-use buildings, senior living facilities and art galleries.

To learn more about the EDC survey, the commission, meeting schedules, news, and resource links, visit the Wilton Economic Development Commission at www.wiltonedc.org.