More than 300 people attended Wilton Town Hall Meeting this year. Many of the warrant articles were routine: capital improvements, repairs to town buildings, and approval for highway maintenance. The warrant articles were presented, a representative would speak about its merits, and then the Wilton residents would vote. Each item took 10 minutes, tops.
Warrant Article 13—to appropriate up to $80,000 from the Town of Wilton towards the purchase of the conservation easements on 155 acres of land on top of Abbott Hill—took far longer. Joe Broyles, a Wilton resident and member of the Wilton Conservation Commission, gave a presentation about the many benefits of the project. Then the floor was opened for discussion.
The debate was kicked off by Selectman-Elect Kermit Williams, who won a write-in campaign two days prior. He spoke about the many benefits of conserving this land and focused specifically on the bargain for Wilton residents: by contributing $80,000, about 4.5% of the project’s total cost, the town would secure the benefits of the conservation easement without taking on any of the legal responsibility for upholding the terms of that easement.
“Over the years, we have chosen to set aside other natural areas as they became available,” Williams said. “That natural beauty and rural character is one of the reasons people come here to live.”
High Mowing alumnus and longtime Wilton resident Alexis Pittman ’77 also spoke in favor of the project, and stressed that conserving 155 acres on top of Abbott Hill would benefit all residents of Wilton. Other supporters included Andrew Kennedy of the Temple-Wilton Community Farm and Stanley Young of the Wilton Heritage Commission.
After about an hour of lively discussion a motion was made to end debate and vote. Previously, it had been requested that the question of Warrant Article 13 be left to a secret vote. Like all other warrant articles, it needed only a simple majority.
It passed, 220-91.
By supporting this project, Wilton residents have contributed to the conservation of 88 acres of farmland soils, pristine forests, four of seven Well Head Protection Areas, and 800+ feet of Souhegan River Frontage. Passage of the article allows for public access and passive recreation in perpetuity.
The support of the Town of Wilton is hugely important going forward for a number of reasons. First, the project is very expensive and would not be possible without the help of many partners. Second, the support of the town is vital as High Mowing and the Russell Foundation move forward with applications to grantors.
Now the campaign to purchase and conserve Frye Field is moving into the final stages. We still have more to raise by June 30. Support this project today and your gift will be matched dollar for dollar by generous donors in our community who are committed to preserving this land.