WILTON — The Board of Selectpersons has agreed with neighboring towns that now is not the right time to invest in a retail strategy.

Farmington, Jay, Livermore Falls and Wilton were asked to collaborate on a retail development contract with Texas-based Buxton Co. to help attract retailers to the area.

What happens in one town helps the others and the region, Town Manager Rhonda Irish said.

Officials from each town and Alison Hagerstrom, executive director of Greater Franklin Development Council, have been working to identify a potential retail strategy, she said. 

At a cost of $50,000 per year for three years, the original idea was for all four towns to split that amount if all agreed to sign on.

Hagerstrom recently asked for an interest level from each town.

Farmington expressed interest if three or more towns committed, but Jay and Livermore Falls were not interested in participating at this time. They are concerned about the future of Verso Paper, she said.

Although it appeared to be a moot point, Hagerstrom felt Wilton should still be given the opportunity to decide. If the town was interested, she was willing to go back to Farmington to see if town officials would consider investing with only two towns, she said.

There are other options to look at, Selectperson Jeff Adams said at the Dec. 20 board meeting.

Like Jay and Livermore Falls, Selectperson Ruth Cushman said she was also nervous about the mill. A lot of residents work there, she said.

Weighing the risks and benefits, Chairperson Tiffany Maiuri felt the town’s time, effort and money should remain on the current infrastructure and go toward helping current businesses stay.

“If there are only two towns, there is too much risk for benefit. We have enough on our plate and need to focus on what is solid. It is not the right time,” she said.

Hagerstrom agreed that things have changed drastically since the idea originated, and that perhaps the timing’s not right, she said.

Selectpersons unanimously voted not to support the idea, but agreed it could be revisited at another time.

In other business, the board moved the date of the annual town meeting up to May 22. Town elections will be held May 16, when the school district budget vote is taken. 

Nomination papers for two selectpersons seats will be available Feb. 17 and need to be returned by March 31. Terms for Selectpersons Jeffrey Adams and John Black are ready to expire this year, she said.

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