More lights would require fund raising
Wilton residents, including Eleanor Sasso, told the Board of Selectmen on Dec. 18 that they’d like to see more lights and decorations in Wilton Center, like other towns in the area.
According to First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice, that could require some fund raising.
"The current town budget includes the cost of electricity for the lights on the Wilton Center lampposts and the Christmas tree on the town green,” Vanderslice said in a Dec. 27 email statement.
“As I understand it, donated funds in other area towns have paid up to $30,000 for the purchase of lights to adorn the trees lining their downtown streets and more than $20,000 on an annual basis to put up and take down the lights and provide electricity for the lights.”
Vanderslice said she does not anticipate that the Board of Selectmen will increase the fiscal year 2019 budget to fund additional lighting in Wilton Center.
“I expect, just like in neighboring towns, those monies will need to be privately raised," she said.
At the Dec. 18 meeting, resident Peter Wrampe said Wilton Center appears cold and impersonal, and indicated seeing a continuing decline in decorations and lights — so much so that he is wondering if he should remain in Wilton.
The truth is, surrounding towns get their lights on with help from fund raising dollars.
In New Canaan, for example, from Thanksgiving to mid-January the trees in the downtown area are illuminated with an array of lights. More than 50 trees are decorated with more than 400 strands of lights. It takes more than 150 worker hours to prepare and maintain the lights, and additional funds to replace the bulbs every year, according to the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce.
“We need the support from the residents of New Canaan to make sure the downtown holiday lights reflect the warmth of the holiday season,” the chamber said in an online appeal for funding.
The message said the hardware and worker pay total more than $21,000, which in the past has come from merchants and private donors. The town pays for the electricity.
A similar story is told in Ridgefield, where downtown businesses help support annual lights at a cost of about $15,000 for the season.
At the Dec. 18 meeting, Selectman Lori Bufano suggested a committee be formed to look at holiday decorations for the town, and the board voted to let the committee form.
Bufano said it is premature to discuss the lighting issue right now but the committee will be taking everything into consideration.