Wilton Select Board discusses cisterns, fire ponds

WILTON – Fire ponds, long required by the Planning Board for subdivisions not on town water, are not reliable water sources, and five or six of them are no longer usable.

On Sept. 23, the Select Board continued discussions on cisterns vs. fire ponds with Deputy Fire Chief Ron Caswell and Fireman Don Nourse.

“For safety, we need permanent water sources,” Nourse said. “Water holes need to maintained.”

The discussion began some months ago over a fire pond that has never managed to hold water.

“Right now, those people have no water and their pond doesn’t work,” Nourse said. “We’d have to truck in water. We want to know, if we have an incident, we can deal with it.”

Caswell displayed pictures of sample cisterns and said he’d had discussions with the Planning Board concerning specifics such as how many homes per cistern and size of the cistern. “We have a work session coming up.”

Cisterns can be very expensive and who should pay for them was a concern.

How much would it add to the costs of the development? Would that be offset by lower insurance costs over the long term?

The Select Board agreed the answers have to be determined by the Planning Board. Chairman Kermit Williams said, “But it’s up to the Fire Department to determine what is needed, but I don’t think we need a change in zoning.”

In the meantime, the board agreed to ask the Budget Committee to increase the amount of money for fire pond maintenance.

Selectman Matt Fish said, “We need funding to get the ponds back in service.”

Caswell also said house numbers need to be clearly visible. “It’s a safety issue and residents need to be reminded.”

In other business, Nourse updated the board on converting the department’s radios to high band. “We can repurpose our radios under the (Milford Area Communications Center) license.

We’ve tested the radios and they are compatible with everything.” He added, “This is a huge step forward for the department.”

The board authorized Town Administrator Paul Branscombe to contract with Beltonics Corp. for the upgrade.

However, the department will need 30 new pagers. Nourse will work with Branscombe on that issue. The present ones will continue to function after the upgrade.

The board held an extended discussion with Assessor Todd Haywood and Town Clerk Jane Farrell concerning how subdivision lots are numbered, particularly after a lot tine adjustment. The Planning Board numbers don’t always match Todd’s tax map numbers.

Haywood said the way he does it is “how all the towns around do it.”

Planning Board member Alex MacMartin said it didn’t make sense to him. “Lots need to be referenced to a site plan that records the history of a lot.”

The board will do some more research before making a decision.

Judith Klinghoffer was named an alternate to the Zoning Board of Adjustment, and Deborah Mortvedt was named Deputy Treasurer.

The personnel policy manual was accepted.

Discussion of amendments to the Town Administrator’s job description was continued to another meeting.

The next meeting of the board will be on Oct. 7, 6 p.m., in the Town Hall Courtroom.