Wilton town garage studied; selectmen, committee tour site

WILTON – The town’s Highway Department Garage, built in 1956, no longer meets the town’s needs. A study Committee was formed a few months ago to determine what those needs are, what kind of facility should be recommended, and where it should be built. The Selectmen and the committee toured the current site on Monday, June 6, prior to the regular meeting of the Select Board. About a dozen people attended.

Public Works Director Mike Tatro hosted the tour, pointing out the various problems, which range from inadequate office space, no proper break room for employees, lack of heat and ventilation, and lack of space for vehicles. There are also concerns about drainage, run-off of storm water through the site to a small brook, and proper storage for salt.

“It is absolutely inadequate, size-wise,” Committee Vice-chairman Bruce Berry said. Signs and some equipment are stored in a railroad car. There should be a place to store stone, lumber, etc.

The current site is about 1.5 acres, Tatro said. The committee is recommending five or six acres for a new building site.

Select Board Chairman Kermit Williams said, “One solution is to have two sites. Store stuff here.” He said, since the site is “grandfathered” they could continue to store the salt at that site.

“We could build a new facility for vehicles, offices, a comfortable place for people.”

Although keeping the garage close to the downtown area is desired, he said, “I don’t think you’ll find a place close to downtown.”

Tatro said, “The trucks and the salt should stay together” for ease in snow plowing.

The discussion continued at the beginning of the board’s regular, public meeting, with Committee Chairman Kellie-Sue Boissonnault.

The committee toured three new facilities, she said, in Amherst, Brookline and Pelham.

Based on those facilities, the cost estimate for a new garage was over $2 million, but depended on the site. If town-owned land is used, the cost would be less.

The committee looked at several town-owned sites, she said, “but some had restrictions.”

Williams mentioned the two-site plan. “We have to decide what to do with that building.”

Boissonnault said the committee would like a work session with the Selectmen, and that was set for June 27 at 6 p.m. Since one of the proposed sites is at the former Quinn Brothers gravel pit on Route 31 north, which may be developed, the committee will meet there prior to their work session.

In other business, the board met with Tom Quinn concerning reclamation work on Lot E-2, which was leased from the town about 15 years ago for a gravel operation.

Quinn said he wanted “a finality.” The Planning Board has approved the reclamation.

The board agreed the reclamation was complete, accepted the land back and waived the tax bills.

A bond cannot be released because it also covers several other lots.

Quinn said moving the town garage to the property “is not off the table.”

A public hearing on changes to a parking ordinance for the New Reservoir will be held prior to the next board meeting on June 20.

New signs for the Reservoir area were discussed.

It was agreed that the New Reservoir Dam should be lowered gradually and the results monitored.

Williams said “there should be a way to memorialize people who have done things for the town.” That idea will be discussed at the next meeting.