Wilton board OK’s economic development warrant articles 

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, February 05, 2018 7:14PM

Wilton select board members OK’ed a warrant article aimed at designing, constructing and installing wayfinding signs at the entrance of town to highlight its main attractions. 

It will be up to the taxpayers to decide if they want to toss $14,770 to cover the cost of the “Welcome to Wilton” signs.

Jennifer Beck, chair of the economic development leadership team, said the signs will market the town’s destinations and promote tourism-based opportunities.

Beck said the conversation about signage, and the lack there of, came about during a meeting last summer where residents outlined ideal development for the town. A team led by Plan New Hampshire helped translate residents goals for the town into applicable ways to implement them. Beck said there was a list of more than 30 ways to improve the town that came as a result of the charrette. Increasing signage was one item off that list.

Beck said if the warrant article passes during Town Meeting in March it’s unclear how many signs the group would be able to create with the allocated funds. She said it will depend on the bids that come in for the project.

Beck said the signs will consist of stenciled depictions of buildings in Wilton, an image that will also appear on signs within the Town Hall. She said a group blasted out a survey to residents with a number of choices for a town-wide tagline, but about 40 percent of respondents chose “I don’t like any of these” as the option.

Wilton is part of a small group of towns across the state that don’t have a tagline at all.

“My conclusion was, ‘hey, you just can’t put labels on Wilton,’” Beck said about residents inability to reach a consensus about a town tagline.

She said that’s partly because the town is comprised of “such a diverse group of people.” She said the town is made up of fourth and fifth generation ‘Wiltonites,’ people who want to drop a cooler down and go fishing, mixed in with Waldorf school parents who are focused on carting their kids around to soccer games and other schooling events.

“With that set of diverse characters, it’s hard to get them to agree,” Beck said.

Riverwalk project

Taxpayers will also vote on a warrant article to appropriate money for the second phase of Riverwalk project at Town Meeting this year.

The article asks voters to raise and appropriate $13,500 to be directed at design options for the town-owned Proctor parking lot phase of the project. The design options would include a feasibility plan for a foot-bridge placement and riverwalk design on the east side of Stony Brook, and connecting Main Street park to the River View Mills.

“We want to move in a thoughtful way, this isn’t a project that you do all at once,” Beck said about this year’s warrant article.  

Beck called this particular warrant article “critical” to the overall success of the project.

Voters approved spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $42,000 on the first phase of the project at last year’s Town Meeting. The first phase, which is located behind the Wilton Police Station, was completed in 2017.

The goal is to extend the walk from Wilton House of Pizza, located on Forest Road, to the Riverview Mills, located on Howard Street.

In the past, Beck said, similar projects have been proposed although none have been successful. She said those projects have been non-starters because people weren’t able to receive approval from all of the business owners to complete the project. If the project continues to move forward, the group would have to collect easements from various businesses. It’s unclear if the group would be able to get easements from all of the business owners. 

If they aren’t able to gather easements from all the businesses, Beck said, at least part of the project would be complete. And that’s better than nothing, she said.

“We want Wilton to be a social center, a place that’s got juice, that’s got a vibe.”

Beck said if the Riverwalk project continues, the group will start seeking out state and federal grants to supplement the project. She said there is a lot of money out there to subsidize projects such as the Riverwalk and said she recognizes that the entire project cannot fall solely onto the backs of taxpayers.

Abby Kessler can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 234 or akessler@ledgertranscript.com.