“I am happy to report that the state of the town is good,” First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice announced at the Wilton League of Women Voters lunch on Tuesday, June 7.
Having completed six months in office, Vanderslice is reaching out to the community, inviting comments and conversation at “Lunches with Lynne,” a new initiative that will take place every other week beginning this summer.
Ticking off major projects she reported: The Comstock building project is 99% complete and will be delivered under budget. The Miller-Driscoll project is also under budget, and will be finished four months early thanks in part to the leadership of Karen Birck and Bruce Hampson.
The Conservation Commission is working to improve conditions at Horseshoe Pond, particularly in the front near the stop signs. It is also studying how to make Schenck’s Island more user-friendly.
Ideas are in the works for building a small concert venue in the hillside at Schenck’s. The town also hopes to add a play structure and handicap-accessible pathways to make the park more available to families and seniors.
An effort between multiple parties will result in a chess park on River Road across from Stop & Shop. The chess tables will be ready for unveiling in September. “It’s a collaboration that really shows Wilton at its best,” Vanderslice said.
The pedestrian footbridge connecting the train station and the center of town is moving through the approval process and is scheduled to be under way by June 2017.
According to Vanderslice, voter registration is up. Signs on Route 7 seemed to encourage people to get out and vote, she said.
Interest in serving on town boards and committees is also up, and obtaining positions on some committees has become quite competitive. Initiatives to allow direct applications to the Board of Selectmen resulted in a large number of citizens coming forward.
The town’s financial health is also strong, she said, with this fiscal year ending $200,000 under budget. She indicated, without giving details, that large employers are expanding to Wilton, and a four-story hotel may be built in town. (See story on page 8C.) The Economic Development Commission has been revitalized. A business survey as well as a survey of residents who have left the community has been completed, and will be presented to the Board of Selectmen at its next meeting. A marketing group has begun brainstorming ideas to promote the town and is creating a video on Wilton’s Memorial Day events. The town’s website has also received a facelift.
The mood in town hall is upbeat and the Annual Town Meeting was well-attended, with attendees being respectful and engaging in productive discourse with one another, she said.
Hiring of new police officers to fill vacancies has begun in the hopes of assembling a full force. A commission for Fire House 2 has been formed, and issues regarding potable water there are being resolved.
As for the future, more cuts to state funding are expected. A recent bill cut $20 million to municipal aid, and it is still unknown whether or not Wilton will be impacted. As the state reduces jobs, more matters will be pushed down to the town level.
For the 2018 budget, Vanderslice says the Board of Selectmen will continue to “roll up their sleeves” and do what they can to increase efficiency.