Wilton first selectwoman vents frustration with social distancing violators

WILTON — Since the coronavirus pandemic ushered in the practice of social distancing which the town has attempted to foster with the closing of fields, certain parks and other recreational facilities, those who flout the rules have been a source of frustration for First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice.

In her coronavirus update to residents on May 3, she reiterated her requests for people to behave as if they have the virus and that everyone around them does as well.

“I want to address the minority of Wilton residents, who don’t think the rules apply to them,” she said. “Those who think it is okay to ignore the Governor’s order that there should not be any gathering of more than 5 people. Those who think they don’t need to wear a mask in public, even though they don’t qualify for the exemption of those for whom the mask creates a health problem. Those who wait for the taxpayer funded field monitors to finish up for the day and then promptly trespass onto the closed fields. Well folks, the rules apply to you and your family members too.

“By not following the rules you are prolonging the economic and health crisis. You are putting the rest of us at risk. You are extending the time that the rest of us have to wear masks and not see our family members and friends. And you are wasting your fellow taxpayers’ money. A proposal to partially open tennis courts and fields will cost taxpayers over $60,000, because you or your child don’t follow the rules.”

She issued an executive order, effective April 10, that make those who violate the closing of recreational facilities subject to a trespassing ticket with a $92 fine. Wilton police have been monitoring fields and have given a number of warnings.

Police also expressed frustration.

“We have officers assigned to checking the closed areas all the time and enforcement action will be taken on those that choose to violate the order,” Lt. Robert Kluk said shortly after the executive order took effect.

“We are looking for voluntary compliance but if we do not get that we will ticket those in violation of the order.” Prior to April 10, he said, “there were people violating the order regularly even with the signs that state ‘Closed to the Public.’ It is unfortunate that people are not abiding by the order and are forcing the police to take time away from other business to assure compliance.”

“We don’t want to begin arresting people as is being done in other municipalities,” Vanderslice said. “This is a highly contagious virus. Take it seriously, be a role model for your children, that is your job. Just as it is my job and that of Wilton’s emergency responders, to ensure the safety of all Wilton residents, even you and your family.”

In the same message, Vanderslice thanked residents who are “putting community first.”

She particularly thanked residents “who are spending countless hours volunteering, whether making masks and face shields, calling seniors, delivering food to home bound residents, health care workers and emergency personnel and to those of you who have donated to fund those deliveries or have donated to the efforts or the food pantry.

“Lastly, I would like to thank our residents and employees, who are on the front lines of this virus.”