Group given more time to develop ideas for old school

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WILTON — Selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday to give a recently formed neighborhood association six more months to develop ideas for the former Wilton Primary School on School Street.

The board asked for monthly progress reports and expects to work with the group on any potential proposals, especially if the group can obtain grant funding.

Attempts to sell the property resulted in few offers.  A proposal by Keith Swett last summer to purchase the building for $1 and turn it into 17 apartments met opposition from neighbors.

They didn’t feel “an apartment complex was a good fit for the neighborhood,” said Tiffany Maiuri, a member of the new group and a successful grant writer. The group has developed bylaws and a board of directors, filed paperwork for a nonprofit status and hosted nearly 25 people at their first meeting, she told the board.

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Maiuri asked the board for either more time or to just tear the school down and perhaps have a community center or a business on the property.

The town has $2,000 in the budget to cover electricity and any maintenance costs on the empty building.

“The building is in good shape. It would be a crime to tear it down if a use could be found for it,” Selectman Paul Gooch said.

For Selectman Irv Faunce, six months more was still a concern, especially after the board was less than keen on a previous proposal that meant waiting for Eric Rutberg to obtain grant funding to create an alternate school.

Some members felt a nonprofit association could have more opportunity to acquire grants.

The association invites people to talk with them, said member Richard Dupuis. He said they weren’t opposed to elderly housing but were concerned when Realtors told them subsidized housing could bring down property values.

“I manage property with Section 8 tenants. They are fine human beings,” Faunce said, adding he resented the statement that Section 8 people bring down the neighborhood.

Town Manager Rhonda Irish said she spoke with Keith Swett and he’s willing to bring his initial proposal back before the board.

abryant@sunjournal.com

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