New Wilton police station will meet PD's needs 'for generations' — pending Planning and Zoning's OK

WILTON — As they gear up for their first presentation before the Planning and Zoning Commission Monday night, town officials expect a smooth approval process for the new police headquarters.

Sanctioned by voters last May in a town-wide referendum, the $16.4 million project would nearly double the size of the station at 240 Danbury Road to almost 19,000-square feet and, if approved, require approximately 20 months of construction.

"Following the public hearing on Monday, at a future meeting P&Z will meet to discuss the project and ultimately vote," explained Christopher Burney, director of planning, design & construction for Wilton, who is hopeful things will run smoothly.

"I am not aware of any issues that P&Z may bring up," he said.

"The design team has worked closely with the Wilton Police Department to put a project together that we believe meets the needs of the department for generations to come," Burney said. "We are hopeful that during the coming review process, the community and the Planning & Zoning Commission will share our enthusiasm for our design."

The current two-story station has served its purpose for 48 years. The Wilton Plan of Conservation and Development from 2019, however, found that the station had "several major deficiencies that need to be addressed," including inadequate infrastructure and insufficient space.

"Since the station was built, the size of the department has almost doubled, leading to overcrowding and a loss of operational and functional space," the plan reported, according to the 236-page special permit application submitted to the P&Z.

Thomas Conlan, Wilton's newly appointed police chief, has watched the need for a new station increase over the years since first joining the department.

"The current police building was built in 1974 for a 25-person, all-male police force," he said. "Today it serves 48 employees — 45 officers and three civilian staff — including eight women."

"The new building will be almost twice the size of the old one and will bring the department up to current policing and building code standards ... A new police facility will have a tremendous benefit to the department, as well as the town," he said.

Michael Wrinn, director of planning & land use management, said he expects the P&Z to examine the project plans objectively and thoroughly on Monday evening.

"They are very thorough in their review, so I am sure there will be questions," he said. "If the applicant can answer those, (it) should go smoothly."

Wrinn noted that the new construction will not create any additional traffic, was approved by voters and has a demonstrable need, all of which would ultimately encourage approval.

Burney said that the design leadership would be in attendance with him at Monday night's meeting.

"We are prepared to deal with any questions, recommendations and suggestions that may arise," he said.

"After we deal with any required changes and receive approval, we will finalize the bid documents and put the project out to bid," Burney said.

Conlan said that if all goes according to schedule, the hope is to break ground for the new building in late May or early June.

"With any project like this we do anticipate that there will be some disruption to access and parking around the construction area, but we are working closely with Mr. Burney on site logistics to try and make the process run as smooth as possible," he said. "We do not foresee any issues to the public accessing the current police building during construction." 

On behalf of his department, the new chief expressed his gratitude for the project.

"Obviously there is a lot of excitement among the department members to get this project completed and to move into the new building," he said. "We appreciate all of the support Wilton residents have given to this project."