Wilton’s Schenck’s Island could get playground, new parking lot

Town officials are discussing the addition of a child's playground, as well as a new parking lot and improved entrance at Schenck's Island in Wilton.

Town officials are discussing the addition of a child's playground, as well as a new parking lot and improved entrance at Schenck's Island in Wilton.

Pat Tomlinson / Hearst Connecticut Media

WILTON — Schenck’s Island could get some improvements soon.

Officials are considering a proposal for the park, which sits just below the southernmost area of Town Center. The selectmen are also considering a $157,000 proposal to use American Rescue Plan Act monies for four different environmental initiatives across town.

Director of Environmental Affairs Mike Conklin recently outlined an estimated $354,000, four-step plan that would be highlighted by a full reconstruction of the entrance and parking lot that service Schenck’s Island and a nature themed playground for children.

The first step of the process, a land survey to determine how best to carry out the plan, has already been completed. Conklin’s office is now in the second phase, which is working with a landscape architect on the entrance and parking lot.

According to documents submitted to the selectmen, a 2022 estimate for the parking lot and entrance upgrades would fall somewhere between $137,000 and $170,000.

“I’m hopeful that we can actually move into construction with that this summer and get that completed,” Conklin said at the recent Board of Selectmen meeting.

Five years ago, a joint Schenk’s Island and Merwin Meadows committee, formed by the Board of Selectmen, determined that a child’s play area would be a good fit at Schenck’s Island.

Conklin said that the playground is yet to be designed and it is currently in a concept phase. The playground will likely incorporate features that coincide with nature themes and even use natural materials such as boulders to fit with its surroundings. In 2019, the town received a quote of $150,000 for estimated costs to build the playground.

Selectman Bas Nabulsi said the $150,000 seems like “kind of a big number” for what he is imagining and asked for more granularity on a cost breakdown for materials and labor.

There isn’t an exact figure yet because the project still has to be designed. First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said that Parks and Recreation Director Steve Pierce is currently in communication with playground vendors and the town will get a better sense of a cost when he returns with more solid numbers.

Vanderslice also said she welcomed the idea, adding that she agreed the playground should be visible from the street so that it may welcome any passerby.

“I agree with you,” she said. “Have it somewhere visible and it invites people, and it also incorporates the [Norwalk] river.”

Selectman Ross Tartell reiterated that fostering a seamless transition from the allure of retail to one of the town’s natural parks just steps away would bode well for the Schenck’s Island plan. The park is close to River Road and Wilton Center, which pairs well with the stout focus on developing an all-encompassing Wilton Center Master Plan this year.

“My department is ready to move forward and get these projects done, if they’re funded,” Conklin told the selectmen.