Wilton horseshoe purchase plan is dropped

WILTON – The Conservation Commission will not, at this time, continue to pursue a plan to purchase The Horseshoe for a family recreation and conservation area.

At a special meeting on June 10, the Commission decided they could not pursue a state grant without the unanimous support of the Select Board. At the meeting of the Select Board on June 17 they did not get it.

“We’ve discussed this for about a year,” Commission Member Jennifer Beck said, as part of a town wide study of recreational water sources which includes Garwin Falls and the New Reservoir. “As long as The Horseshoe remains private property, we can’t manage it.”

If the property remains privately owned, “all of the current problems will continue,” Beck said, crowds, trash, undesired use of the school parking lot. “We’d lose a historic site and any economic benefit to the downtown.”

If a state Land and Community Heritage (LCHIP) grant is received and private funding is successful, the Commission will commit $50,000 toward the purchase.

She asked, “Do you want this to move forward?”

Select Board member Matt Fish said no. “I don’t think it’s a good idea. I don’t think the townspeople want this. I wholeheartedly support the rest of the program.”

Kellie-Sue Boissonnault said she didn’t like the price. “It’s not sitting well with me. We need more feedback from the residents.”

Chairman Kermit Williams said he liked the project. “It is kind of expensive, but it is a significant piece of property on the river. It is worth the money to make it a conservation area.” He added, “It is the residents, at a town meeting, that make the final decision.”

Boissonnault said people who talked to her didn’t support the plan. Beck said those who talked with her were in favor of it, “but the three of you are the ones who count right now.”

Beck did not say what the Commission might do now.

In other business on Monday, the board agreed to seek bids for the conversion of the streetlights, approved a property tax exemption for Gaia Educational Institute, and continued discussion of the ambulance service budget to a later meeting.

After some discussion of various proposals for the repair of the Old County Road Bridge, the board decided to visit the site.

“We need to put together a process to get to a conclusion,” Williams said.

Town Administrator Paul Branscombe will continue discussions with the landowner.

The board discussed an on-going radio problem with Acting Fire Chief Don Nourse. The high-band part of the system will be upgraded through a state grant, but the low-band part is not providing adequate service and the firemen can’t easily communicate with each other.

“Regardless of what happens concerning (the future of Milford Area Communications Center) we will need new hardware,” Nourse said.

The next meeting of the board is set for Monday, July 1, 6 p.m., in the town hall courtroom.