Wilton Riverwalk and signage warrants discussed

WILTON – The Economic Development Committee has proposed two warrant articles for the town meeting: Phase II of the Riverwalk and installation of “Welcome to Wilton” signs. Both were accepted by the selectmen on Jan. 29.

The proposals were presented by Jennifer Beck, committee chairman.

The Riverwalk article asks for $13,500 for design options for the town-owned Proctor Parking Lot on Main Street, including a feasibility plan for a foot bridge on the east side of Stoney Brook, and connecting Main Street Park to Riverview Mills. The plan would include public input, design options and a final report and plan for phased construction.

The proposed pedestrian bridge would connect the walkway around the police department parking lot with Forest Street near the Wilton House of Pizza.

“Creating greenspace and walking corridors are important to businesses looking to move here,” Beck said.

The Proctor Lot, located on the river bank across from the “dummy,” is town-owned. It would be improved with an overlook, possible steps to the river and “no loss of parking spaces.”

At the other end of Main Street, the riverbank at the parking area at Riverview Mills would be regraded, a walking path installed and connected with the elderly housing complex. All development would be ADA compliant.

Selectman Kermit Williams said two of the architects who had attended the planning charette last summer “were very excited by the project, and they’d both love to do it. The professionals can see the benefits” of developing the riverfront.

The signage article asks for $14,770 for the design, construction and installation of “Welcome to Wilton” signs at the entrances to town and “way-finding” signs downtown to highlight anchor attractions.”

Beck said the justification for the signs is to establish Wilton as a destination. Her PowerPoint presentation read: “Market Wilton’s existing destinations, promote tourism-based opportunities and review existing regulations to ensure they support Wilton’s rural and agricultural character as well as town goals related to economic development and liability.”

Welcome signs would be placed at the Route 31 exit onto Island Street and near the TD Bank in Pine Valley, at the entrance from the by-pass, all subject to state DOT approval.

Proposed signs would be simple. While the committee could not find a “tag line” for the town, “no one word describes us,” a logo has been developed from a drawing created by Wilton Center Artist Gail Hoar for the Heritage Committee. The line drawing depicts the main downtown features.

“I like (these ideas),” Selectman Chairman Bill Condra said. “I’d love to drag people here to see my town.”

Williams added, “We need something to draw the eye. It can only be advantageous.”

“Every town around has signs, except Wilton,” Beck said.

The “wayfinding” signs would include Frye’s Measure Mill and Andy’s Summer Playhouse.

“We want to at least get started and see what people think,” Beck said.

The articles will be discussed at the Budget Committee’s public hearing on Feb.15.