Forum participants say it's time to promote Wilton

Now that the Economic Development Commission has completed a thorough study of the town’s strengths and weaknesses, it’s time to accentuate the positive and start promoting, participants in an EDC Forum at Wilton Library said on Oct. 20.

That is, promote it as a place for business and a go-to community for home buyers, particularly millennials who are considered the youngest generation of home buyers and family starters.

“The best thing for us would be to start promoting the town,” said real estate agent Patrick Filley, who was one of 35 people who attended the session that ran more than two hours at the Brubeck Room.

Those who attended included First Selectmen Lynne Vanderslice, who used humor to deflect Filley’s suggestion that the town put a freeze on housing taxes. Selectmen Lori Bufano and Dick Dubow, Wilton Go Green Director Daphne Dixon and state Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) attended.

The crowd listened to a long slide show presentation on Wilton facts and figures, including that the school system is widely regarded as one of the best in Connecticut, and the homes are a better value than some surrounding wealthy suburbs.

“You get more bang for your buck in Wilton,” said Vivian Lee-Schiue, chair of the EDC.

Other strong points about Wilton include very high average household income and a high proportion of highly educated residents. Most of these points were made to the Board of Selectmen on Oct. 17 and were detailed in an article in last week’s Bulletin.

With a vibrant downtown area, offset from Route 7 but eventually to be connected to the main train station by a pedestrian bridge, Wilton could easily become a go-to destination for New Yorkers who want to escape the city for a day of shopping and restaurant hopping in a suburban environment close to nature, one of the participants said.

There’s plenty of nature and a willingness to preserve it.

“We are a green community,” said another participant, pointing out that the town is on the cutting edge of energy efficiency and solar power.

Lee-Schiue said these strengths are important to recognize as Wilton builds its self-identity, apart from better known surrounding towns like Westport and Norwalk.

The next step is to promote the brand. Lee-Schiue has previously announced the EDC is making a video to show the town to best advantage. That is one example of how the EDC, formed by the Board of Selectmen in 2012, will promote the town.

She was not immediately available after the forum to discuss other ideas or how much money is in the budget for promotion.