What will Wilton look like in 2025?

In an effort to stimulate community input into how Wilton will look in the future, a panel of professionals will lead a discussion about creating a town that residents want Wednesday, May 11, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Wilton Library.

Panelists at the Wilton 2025: Architecture and Planning — Past, Present and Future discussion will include:

  • Chris Pagliaro, partner at Pagliaro Bartels Sajda Architects LLC in Norwalk.

  • Kathleen Poirier, owner of Kathleen Poirier Architects LLC in Wilton.

  • Rob Sanders, owner of Rob Sanders Architects LLC in Wilton.

  • Bob Nerney, Wilton’s planning and land use management director.

  • Suzanne Knutson, landscape designer and vice president of the Wilton Garden Club.

Sanders, who previously held a talk on the origins and evolution of Wilton’s architecture, said he wanted to “shift the discussion” with this upcoming talk and hold an open community conversation on where the town will be in the next 25 years.

From the town’s beginning to about World War I, Sanders said, Wilton evolved from “a farming community to a suburban bedroom community,” and in the last 75 years, its population has grown from about 3,000 to 17,000.

From a planning point of view, Sanders said, the forces that transformed the town into what it is today “aren’t particularly clear as to where they’re going.”

“We’re in an awkward adolescent stage at this point — or maybe it’s a mid-life crisis,” said Sanders. “Whatever it is, there’s a feeling that things — visually and from an architect’s eye — don’t seem very cohesive.”

While surrounding towns have “worked to create a clear core and development,” Sanders said, people in Wilton seem to feel their town lacks “a focus and a core.”

Architecturally, Sanders said, Wilton Center is “a series of missed opportunities, mixed architecture and ownerships that don’t hang together very well.”

Although that architectural makeup can be “terrific and exciting with lots of layers of history,” he said, “Wilton doesn’t feel that way.”

“It feels like it’s got lots of leftover pieces that don’t function well to encourage street life that would be attractive,” said Sanders. “There’s not enough residential and nighttime living in the core of the town.”

Future changes

Sanders said the town could see some “significant changes” in the next nine years — ones residents will want to happen and ones that will happen in an “uncontrolled manner” if planning changes aren’t made.

Sanders said the Wilton 2025 talk will give community members the chance to think about and discuss “what could be improved about areas that are likely to grow” over that period of time, such as Wilton Center, Cannondale, South Wilton, and the Route 7 corridor.

During the talk, Sanders said, he and the other panel members hope to “articulate some visions about how that could occur and stimulate questions from the audience.”

“We’re all planners and trained in different elements that make up the community, but I want us to all speak freely — separated from issues, clients and owners — and speak more as citizens,” said Sanders.

“I think the community is hungry for some direction and vision as to what might happen,” he said, “and this session will hopefully allow us to speak freely and imagine a little more broadly.”

With the update of Wilton’s town plan a couple of years away, Sanders said, he also hopes the talk will encourage residents to become more engaged in the town planning process.

“What if we weren’t so worried about property lines, ownership or money for a moment? Imagine what [Wilton] could be,” Sanders said. “We could end up with a community we want instead of one that just happens.”

Wilton 2025: Architecture and Planning — Past, Present and Future will take place in the Brubeck Room. There is no charge, but registration is highly recommended. To register, visit www.wiltonlibrary.org or call 203-762-6334.