Wilton approves ARPA funds for water and sewer projects

  • Wilton Town Hall Ashley Saari

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/22/2021 4:25:33 PM

The Wilton Select Board voted Monday to reserve a portion of federal COVID-19 relief funds for water and sewer projects in town.

Wilton has already accepted the first half of this year’s anticipated American Rescue Plan Act relief funding, which is about $198,000, to be used for COVID-19 relief or certain infrastructure projects. During its Monday meeting, the board officially approved two projects for the funding, and identified a potential third.

The board voted 2-0, with Selectman Kermit Williams abstaining, to approve the replacement of manhole covers on Wilton Main Street for the Sewer Commission, and a Water Commission project to complete engineering work for the replacement of a water main on Route 101.

The Select Board approved $28,700 for the manhole project, which will replace 22 manholes and also include the roadwork involved.

The board also approved $53,100 for the engineering work for the Route 101 (also known as Gibbons Highway) water main replacement. The project includes the replacement of 1,800 feet of existing cast iron water main, which dates back to 1910. The main is located between the Wilton Recycling Center entrance at 291 Gibbons Highway and LA Limousine at 223 Gibbons Highway.

The current water main is located underneath the highway, and its replacement would be moved to the roadway shoulder, and the existing line abandoned without removing it.

The board also took a vote on a third prospective project, though with the caveat that it must meet the requirements for using the American Rescue Plan Act funds. ARPA funds are limited in scope, and one of the allowed uses is for the expansion of broadband infrastructure.

The Wilton Public Safety Advisory Committee, made up of Wilton emergency officials, proposed to use a significant portion of the funds to upgrade new repeater communications equipment at the Dram Cup Hill/Crown Castle radio tower.

“It’s a really great spot that would solve a lot of our issues,” Fire Department Chief Don Nourse told the Select Board.

Communications issues have plagued Wilton for years, with several attempts to upgrade equipment at the Milford Area Communications Center, which Wilton is a partial owner of, never gaining traction with the collective owners. Milford has also, in recent years, put several plans before Town Meeting to propose building a new, stand-alone communications system, without the current partners of Wilton and Mont Vernon.

Wilton Police Chief Eric Olesen noted that installing repeaters on the tower would improve radio coverage in Wilton, and it would also be owned by the town, in case the MACC Base partnership did eventually end. Or, he and Nourse noted, if the current system upgraded to a digital system, or Wilton eventually joined a solely-Milford owned digital system, the new radios could be used for that system as well.

The cost of a the new repeaters is a total of $99,000. Select Board members Kellie Sue Boissonnault and Matt Fish agreed to reserve a portion of the American Rescue Plan Act funds for the project, but contingent upon the town seeking legal advice on whether communications infrastructure is an allowed use of the funds.

Williams, who said he did not believe it was an allowed use, voted against reserving COVID-19 relief funds for the project, but said it was a worthy idea that the town should support through another funding mechanism.

“This is a valuable project,” Williams said. “While I support the project, I can’t support this method.”

The town is required to create a report with proposed uses for the American Rescue Plan Act funds to submit to the state by the end of October. Towns can use the funds for projects scheduled through 2024. The Select Board is scheduled to continue to discuss possible uses for the funds throughout October.


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