Guest Commentary: An answer
There is a great deal of discussion these days in Wilton about how to increase the tax base (the grand list) by bringing in businesses and corporations and increasing the number and the size of retail home sales, thus increasing existing home values. This is a hot topic with the Economic Development Commission and the Board of Finance. Many methods and ideas have been put forward. But there is an answer (not the only answer) that will not require leadership, organization, or even a penny of expense. The way is for Wilton to be known for its small-town values.
There are ways in a small town of treating one another that disappear in larger communities.
In a small town one always greets a person one passes on the street with a “Good Morning!” or a “How are you doing?” It warms you up when you hear that from a person you do not know. How many of us walking for exercise in Wilton Center greet our fellow walkers? Try it. It’s free. You will be surprised at people’s reactions. You can greet anyone anywhere that way.
And do you smile at folks when you are out and about? Just a smile can make each of us feel better and be healthier. In a small town, one says “please” and “thank you” often. This is especially appreciated by the person behind the counter or at the cash register. Those two words means so much to people who are working hard to please you.
When you are stuck in traffic on Route 7, can you be kind to the people around you since there is nothing to be done? Can you wave a person into your lane?
I know many of us do this now, but if all of us resisted our natural feelings and reached out this way, it would be a different community. And in this the holiday season, it would be an easy time to start.
Here are a few examples of what I am referring to that I have experienced in other communities.
In a village I know of in western New York when you walk up to a quiet intersection where there are no stop signs, drivers stop and wave for you to cross. For the one on foot, that is a real surprise.
In southwestern Ireland when you pass another car on a quiet road, the driver always waves to you as he passes. Other Ireland residents tell you ahead of time, so you will know the custom.
Years ago, I was driving through Virginia on my way south when I came to a toll bridge that traversed a river. The line of cars that led up the long ramp to the toll taker was staggering. It was early morning and everyone was on their way to work. But there was no honking, no grumbling from the open windows. When I got to the toll taker, I was met by a busy woman in her late 20s who met me with a big smile and a huge southern “Goooood Mornin!” That greeting made my day, and it has lasted all these years.
What I am suggesting is that Wilton could be known very easily with these small-town values as the friendliest town in Fairfield County. This is not to be a Chamber of Commerce promotion. The word would come from others who visited our town, shopped in our town, worked in our town. Wilton would have the reputation as the friendliest town in the area, for each of us just being kind and considerate. It would be customary in Wilton.
So how does this increase the grand list? People outside of Wilton would tell prospective buyers something like this about Wilton: “Wilton has excellent schools, you get a real value in a home purchase, and, Wilton is the friendliest town in Fairfield County. It’s a very attractive place to live.”
I bet that this might have some real results.
— Mr. Kalamarides wrote this as a private citizen, not as a member of the Board of Finance.