Wilton Collaborative Space opens its doors

  • Wilton Community Center President Donna Crane praises Library Director Pat Fickett for obtaining a grant that made the Wilton Collaborative Space possible. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

  • Conservation Commission Chair Bart Hunter shows nature photographs to resident Deb Mortvedt. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

  • Library Director Pat Fickett welcomes residents to a open house at the Second Congregational Church in Wilton, which will host the Wilton Collaborative Space. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

  • The Wilton Collaborative Space held an open house on Thursday, for residents to meet community partners and learn about what the space offers. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/24/2022 11:27:13 AM
Modified: 1/24/2022 11:25:57 AM

At the door to the Second Congregational Church in Wilton is an activities calendar for the new Wilton Collaborative Space. Already, there are activities filling up spaces – with more yet to come.

Wilton Public and Gregg Free Library is administering the space, which through at least July is funded through a State Library American Rescue Plan Act grant. Library Director Pat Fickett said she hopes that by the end of the year, the space will have proved how essential it is to a thriving community. The space is at Second Congregational Church, and Fickett told those who attended an open house Thursday that when she prepared to apply for the grant and began to talk to community members about what they wanted to see in their town, the No. 1 answer she got was community space.

Not that it was a shocking request, she noted.

“That follows what the Community Center Committee has been saying for years,” Fickett said.

The Wilton Community Center formed when Wilton Sacred Heart Church went up for sale, and was offered to the town. The town considered purchasing the building for the purpose of making it a community center, but for several reasons, including property restrictions and expensive repairs the building needed, the deal never went through, leaving the Wilton Community Center to carry on holding events in rented spaces and public parks.

Now, Fickett said, the Wilton Collaborative Space can fill that hole.

Donna Crane, president of the Wilton Community Center, said the collaborative space can function as a pilot for what a community center can do for a town, and praised Fickett for her work in obtaining the grant.

“Pat made it happen,” Crane said. “This is what we’ve been saying we need all along. I’m so grateful to her,”

Bart Hunter, chair of the Wilton Conservation Commission, said the commission has already planned a photography lecture using the new space.

“We’ve tried having programming before, in the library rotunda. It was great that we had it, but it was not a lot of room,” Hunter said. “I think this has a lot of potential.”

Hunter said the Conservation Commission hopes to use the space to invite speakers on loon preservation, and for foresters to come speak about sustainable logging practices.

Michael Dell’Orto, chair of the Wilton Heritage Commission, noted that the community space gives a place for young people in town to hold activities – something he said has been missing – and said he sees nothing but potential for what it can be in the future.

“This is something the town has desperately needed, and hopefully will do a great deal of good,” said Dell’Orto. “The lovely thing is, this is what we make it. It’s not any one thing. The amount of things you can do now that you have the space is endless.”

Selectman Kermit Williams attended the open house, and said he would be backing a warrant article this spring to keep the community center open through December, after grant funding ends at the end of July. He called the partnership between the library and the Second Congregational Church a “win-win” situation. The church has a small stage and a kitchen, and is one of the biggest meeting spaces in town, Williams said.

“I think this is a great use of this space. We’ve talked a long time about a community center,” Williams said.

This week’s offerings at the Wilton Collaborative Space include an open mic night Wednesday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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