Wilton’s Main Street concerns

WILTON – The recent abrupt closing of the Roam Cafe on Main Street prompted the Board of Selectmen to discuss business issues on Monday, Aug. 17. Chef Cheryl Schaefer, who opened the cafe in 2012, has cited an "inability to survive" on Main Street.

The former Color Shop has also closed, although there has been some interest in the space discussed informally with the planning board at a recent meeting.

Selectman Kermit Williams, the board’s representative, said that committee is in the process of updating the town’s Master Plan and is currently discussing the economic development chapter.

"We need to explore some kind of financial assistance for development," Williams said. "Such things as a community block grant, some way to market the town, bring some new business to downtown. That won’t happen by itself."

He added that the Main Street Association is also discussing the question.

Selectman Bill Condra said he would attend their September board meeting, "to at least get their thoughts on the issue."

The planning board has also been working toward simplifying the process for change-of-use of an existing building and streamlining the site plan review process, a response to comments made at a recent public forum on economic development issues.

Chairman Rick Swanson said, "We need to look at what resources are out there. We need a facilitated discussion of what is available for businesses to relocate here." He suggested Nashua Regional Planning Commission as a place to start.

Williams said, "We can’t limit it to downtown. We need to look at the whole town." He pointed to the P.E.P. Direct building on Route 31 north which is currently for sale.

Swanson agreed. "We need a planning process and a gamer changer. We need to create a vision and organize around it."

It was suggested that someone talk with the group trying to organize a regional agricultural cooperative which has shown interest in one of Main Street’s empty store fronts.

Programs being developed by Jaffrey and Peterborough were mentioned and suggestions made that their coordinators be contacted.

Schaefer also spoke out at a recent forum on economic development sponsored by the planning board, saying the town needed to be more proactive in trying to attract people to downtown.