Wilton officials outline $34.9M in planned bonded projects

WILTON — Town officials fully reviewed the bevy of projects that it has either underway or planned under its five-year bonded capital plan this week — a list that they deemed integral for the future of the town.

“All of these projects are critical,” First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said Thursday before outlining a number of the most important projects the town will take on in the coming years. “The police headquarters is 47 years old and was built for 27, not 44, officers and has not had any upgrades. It is long past its useful life as is Town Hall’s electrical systems.”

The town categorizes projects into two categories: Those that qualify for bonded projects and those that do not. A project that costs over $250,000 that will have a lifespan of 10 or more years qualifies as a project capable of using money from the town’s bonded capital plan. Projects that do not fit that criteria are paid for within the yearly operating budgets.

According to Vanderslice and Director of Public Works Chris Burney, the town currently has six projects slated as bonded projects. The first selectwoman said they will all be brought to a special town meeting or the annual town meeting in May of each year until 2025, when the five-year period has completed.

The first project is the building of a new police headquarters, currently estimated at $15 million.

Burney told the Board of Finance this week that it was the “biggest thing” the town was working on, even before the pandemic.

Initial plans for the project were revealed by Tecton Architects in February 2020. Earlier this month, the Board of Selectmen finally gave its approval to enter into a contract with Tecton to undergo plans for a new police headquarters.

The architectural company will also be tasked with designing and building a new firing range. The firing range at the current police headquarters has not been in use since “before I came on six years ago,” Burney explained to the financial board, due to not being up to current standard code. It has been used a storage area since being shut down.

Officials have discussed the area just behind the Transfer Station as a possible destination for the new firing range.

Road paving is another long-term project the town is investing $12.3 million in over four years. Vanderslice said the town is just finishing up a multiyear road restoration program, in which “we can’t let the roads return to their condition (they were) prior to the program.”

Burney told the finance board that, when the project first began, the town hired a contractor to drive each Wilton street and scan the roads using infrared technologies so that they have a fuller understanding of the scope of this paving project. An index of each road is kept by the town.

The town will also undergo three bridge replacements and three bridge repairs, estimated at $1.9 million over another four-year period.

Roof replacements, including at Town Hall, Wilton High School, Miller-Driscoll School and Cider Mill School, have also been bonded at $3.6 million over three years. Town electrical replacements, including at town hall, are estimated at $1.5 million, and the replacement of a fire engine, which was approved earlier this year, is estimated at $600,000.

“Properly maintaining our town’s infrastructure is a top priority,” the first selectwoman said, adding that Burney has played a key role in all of these endeavors.

Vanderslice called Burney a “great find” when the town brought him on six years ago.

“He helped deliver the Miller-Driscoll project under budget and ahead of schedule, and as importantly he helped deliver a better building,” she said.

By July 1, Burney is expected to take a step back, but is not bowing out.

According to Vanderslice, he will still be the lead on the police building project, seeing it to completion, as well as a few other projects that are already planned.

“He, along with the assistant DPW director, have been modernizing many aspects of the department, including how decisions are made,” Vanderslice said.