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WILTON

$1.7M fire station addition, renovation is approved

Voters pass $935,000 fire station bond; $10K added for stormwater study

  • Carol Roberts speaks in favor of voting for a bond to build an addition and renovate the fire station at Town Meeting. The fire station bond passed in a 176-53 ballot vote.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Wilton Town Meeting 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • At the Wilton Town Meeting on Thursday, Neil Faiman of Wilton casts his ballot for Article 2 to see if the town will bond $935,000 and use $763,950 in capital reserve funds to renovate the fire station and put on an addition. The article was approved 176-53.<br/><br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Wilton Town Meeting 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Mark Ferguson addresses the crowd during Town Meeting on Thursday night.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Wilton Town Meeting 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Wilton Town Meeting 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Wilton Town Meeting 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

WILTON — The town will be seeing construction of a new and improved version of the fire station, after voters approved a $935,000 bond to renovate the current building as well as add a 5,515 square foot addition. The total project will cost the town a little under $1.7 million.

The town approved this year’s operating budget of $4,321,789, after accepting an amendment to add $10,000, which will be put towards a study of municipal stormwater management.

The new fire station addition will include an additional bay for a fire truck, a new training room, kitchen area, lobby, office space and a handicapped-accessible bathroom. The $1,698,950 price tag also includes renovations to the existing building, including an updated drainage system and asbestos removal.

The addition and renovation to the fire station will be paid for with a $935,000 bond and $763,950 from capital reserve designated for fire station improvements. The article for the addition passed decisively at Town Meeting on Thursday night with a 176-53 ballot vote, easily within the two-thirds majority needed to pass.

“Now’s the time to do it,” said Fire Chief Ray Dick in a presentation before the assembly took a ballot vote on the fire station bond. “The place needs to be upgraded. We need your support.”

Budget Committee member Mark Whitehill said he would have liked to see a fire station built closer to the geographic center of town, where there is the most population growth.

Dick replied that where the fire station is currently located the houses are close together, and that’s where the greatest risk of spreading fire is. Also in past years, he said, the town has authorized up to $50,000 to study alternative sites, and to move the station completely would be more expensive.

Dick said construction on the project would begin in April, and hopefully would be finished by the end of November. Service will continue throughout construction, he added.

In other Town Meeting business, the town also agreed to raise $10,262 for new hoses, turnout gear and pagers for the Fire Department, and to add $50,000 to the fire truck capital reserve.

Also passing by a wide margin was a $220,000 bond for replacement of damaged sewer pipe along Maple Street, which passed in a 195-20 vote.

One article underwent a quick change in focus after Road Agent Steve Elliott learned last week that one of the bridges in town is in desperate need of repair. Article 21 originally would have put $50,000 in a capital reserve account in anticipation of needed repairs to the town’s three red-listed bridges. However, a recent state inspection moved one bridge — not one of the three already on the town’s radar — to the forefront: the one on Old County Farm Road.

Elliott proposed an amendment to change the amount of the article from $50,000 to $68,000 for repairs to the bridge on Old County Farm Road.

“This bridge is critical,” said Select Board Member Dan Donovan. “It’s the only access point for that road.”

The voters accepted the amendments to the article, and the article passed.

Articles 4 and 5 dealt with an offer from the Catholic Diocese of Manchester to gift the Sacred Heart Church and rectory to the town. The town voted to authorize the Select Board to continue negotiating the acceptance of the building and property, but failed to approve Article 5, which would have raised money to do needed renovations on the building to convert it for use as a community center. The town first voted down a proposed amendment to turn a placeholding $1 amount to $95,732, and then voted down the article to create an operating budget for the proposed community center.

Resident Jim Cutler pointed out that assigning an operating budget for the center before even knowing if the town would accept the building was putting the cart before the horse.

School Board member Harry Dailey said he would prefer to see the funds invested in Florence Rideout Elementary School, pointing out that many of the programs anticipated to be held in the church could just as easily be accommodated by the school.

The town approved $120,000 to finish paving the last two-thirds of Isaac Frye Highway, with $60,000 coming from capital reserves and $60,000 coming from taxation. Resident Donald Sienkiewicz proposed an amendment to add the provisions of Article 24 — to pave three one-way sections between Badger Farm Road and Blueberry Lane — to the article . The amendment failed.

Another petition article asked the town to post a speed limit of five miles an hour for the section of Isaac Frye Highway between Badger Farm Road and Blueberry Lane. The town voted down two proposed amendments to the article, one to amend the speed to 15 and the other to 20, before defeating the article entirely.

Another article that failed to pass was Article 7, which proposed a $7,000 shed for the Recycling Center to act as a new home for the dump’s exchange area. The money was to come from the Recycling Center’s capital reserve. Resident Alex LoVerme suggested that, instead of buying a shed, the Recycling Center approach local Boy Scout Troops and offer the building of the shed as a Eagle Scout project, which wouldn’t cost the town any money. The article failed in a voice vote. However, the town approved a $5,000 clamshell bucket and a $35,900 used compactor for the Recycling Center.

The town library will also be seeing several improvements, as voters approved a $3,000 article to improve the walkway, $2,000 to remove two damaged trees on the property and $10,000 from the library capital reserve fund to clean and repair the tile floor.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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