Wilton cuts transfer station upgrades from final ARPA plan

WILTON — The selectmen have finalized their list on how to spend $6.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act and infrastructure budget funds, having agreed to cut the $300,000 for Transfer Station upgrades from the list.

The selectmen recently approved four more projects to get the overall list to the $6.6 million cap. They are $500,000 for drainage studies and repairs at the Middlebrook Middle School fields, $175,000 to replace a playground, $50,000 for upgrades to Ambler Farm and $25,000 to light the upper parking lot at Comstock Community Center.

The purchase of three 100-yard dumpsters for the Transfer Station, totaling $300,000, was on the docket during the final discussion. However, as the priority list sat at nearly $222,000 over budget, the selectmen agreed to nix the upgrade.

“We’re still working on the plan for the Transfer Station long-term,” First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said before recommending that the project wait.

She also considered the purpose of the ARPA funds, which have a criteria for what the federal money can be used for, such as infrastructure sorely needed during the pandemic. Vanderslice said the Transfer Station dilemma isn’t one that stemmed from the pandemic.

“We recognize that we want to get our playing fields in better shape, be able to get more kids on the field and have more playing time, so I think it’s more consistent with the point of ARPA and where we want to go,” Vanderslice said.

The town is now $78,000 under budget, allowing for the possibility that some projects may come back with higher costs than the estimated amount.

These four projects join a list the selectmen already prioritized. They earmarked funds to go to drainage upgrades to the berm at the Wilton High School complex, totaling $173,000, drainage maintenance at Cider Mill Elementary School and Wilton High School, worth $292,875, and the emergency communication project that totals $4.08 million with nearly $3.1 million coming from ARPA funds.

A $175,000 townwide amenities master plan was passed, with part of that plan determining a location for a new turf field.

Fixes to Town Hall, including its columns and steps, as well as heating and insulation upgrades were prioritized too.

The town’s parks will be getting upgrades as well. In early June, $170,000 for a new parking lot at Schenck’s Island was prioritized, as well as $20,000 for the barn at Merwin Meadows to receive siding repairs. A $44,000 plan was passed to address upgrades to trails, boardwalk stabilization and parking across the town’s parks, and $57,000 to repave the access way to the state-owned, town-run, Quarry Head Park.