Wilton offered gift of Wilton Falls office building

  • The Wilton Falls building on Burns Hill Road has been offered to the Town of Wilton. COURTESY PHOTO—

  • The Wilton Falls building on Burns Hill Road has been offered to the Town of Wilton. COURTESY PHOTO—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/1/2023 2:17:30 PM
Modified: 9/1/2023 2:16:56 PM

The Town of Wilton has been offered the land and offices at 6 Burns Hill Road, commonly called the Wilton Falls building, as a gift.

The town announced that Chuck Crawford, owner of Wilton manufacturer Kimball Physics, has been in conversation with the town to offer the property. Select Board Chair Matt Fish stressed that the process is preliminary, and no decisions would be made without some form of public feedback process, but called it a “very generous offer.”

The building is currently has six units and houses several tenants, including the Open Cupboard Food Pantry and the Main Street Association offices, as well as at least three businesses.

While the conversation around the donation is still preliminary, the Select Board has done a walk-through of the building.

Selectman DJ Garcia said he had qualms about taking on the building and the potential cost of upkeep on the 1850 building, as well as taking a large commercial space off the tax roll. He called it “a really big ask for the taxpayers,” particularly when taking into account the town’s other priorities and aging infrastructure.

Selectman Kermit Williams said that he has had conversations with the tenants of the building, who were not opposed to the town taking ownership. He noted that the town would continue to have tenants pay rent, and that if nothing else, the parking for the building would be good to add to the town’s municipal spaces.

“I think the parking, by itself, is a tremendous gift,” Williams said.

Despite a Burns Hill address, the building is located adjacent to Main Street, and across the street from the municipal lot at the Wilton Police Department.

Residents present at the Select Board meeting where the offer was announced gave mixed feedback. Town Water Commissioner Tom Schultz said he had negative experiences with Crawford on the commission, but others saw the building as an investment for the town’s economic growth.

Jennifer Beck, head of the town’s economic development team, said the team had a plethora of ideas for how to use the space. Ideas already discussed include retail space, workforce housing apartments, and a makerspace or training space for Wilton-Lyndeborough students.

Beck said the historic building is also potentially “ripe for grant opportunities.”

Fish also said he saw the potential to fill holes in the town’s needs, but is cognizant of the potential issues of the town becoming a landlord, and the condition of the building.

“There’s a lot of opportunity, but a lot of unknowns,” Fish said.

Deputy Town Administrator Janice Pack said the town is waiting on a formal, written offer from Crawford before moving forward with scheduling feedback sessions from the public. Fish said the town will be continuing this conversation on an ongoing basis.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172, Ext. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on X @AshleySaariMLT.

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