WILTON — The Wilton Select Board Tuesday, Nov. 16, moved to send a letter to the North Jay Water District Trustees stating stipulations that must be met before the two towns can move forward in exploration of combining their water departments. Specifically, the town would combine the Wilton and North Jay water departments.

Town Manager Rhonda Irish updated the board on the process thus far: hours before, the Town of Wilton conducted “a workshop on the North Jay Water District and Wilton Water-Department study that this board had previously commissioned Maine Rural Water to conduct.”

Selectperson Tom Saviello suggested the board send the letter to make the trustees aware that “before we can continue conversations, we need a commitment from them; before we merge, things would have to happen.”

Some of these stipulations include the North Jay Water District installing smart meters and other equipment, updating their computer systems — “to be up to what ours is, will be in the future,” Saviello said — conducting an infrastructure study and an engineering review and offering the board access to the town water department’s historical and digital books — to understand the infrastructure, any planning in the past, present and future, Selectperson Tiffany Maiuri said.

Saviello added that Water and Wastewater Superintendent Heinz Grossman could add the stipulations he felt were necessary, as well, before the letter is sent.

Saviello said that Wilton might end up “entering into a contractual management arrangement” with the North Jay Water District Trustees to handle the process, “get them up to speed.”

“Until (the stipulations are) done, we would not consider combining together,” Saviello said.

Selectperson Phil Hilton suggested the letter emphasize that future contingencies could arise in the future.

“(The letter should) make it clear we might come up with other things at a later date,” Hilton said. “I’d hate for them to jump through all these hoops and then we think of something.”

Ultimately, Wilton residents would likely have to vote at a town meeting to approve the merger — which might bring the merger to a halt.

“I’m pretty well convinced if we are going to have to increase rates to make this happen, the vote will never pass in Wilton,” Saviello said.

In other business, the board conducted selectperson committee assignments:

• Maiuri and Hilton will be on the broadband committee.

• Selectperson Keith Swett will be on the road and police committees.

• Chair David Leavitt will be on the parks and recreation committee.

• Saviello will be on the recycling and cemetery committees.

The remainder of the town’s committees that were not assigned, such as the downtown and ordinance committees, first “need to be revived,” Irish said. Other assigned committees, such as the police and cemetery committees, also haven’t met in quite some time. The hiatuses of these committees is due to the COVID-19 pandemic and difficulties meeting, she added.

Irish also ran the board through a list of other “unfinished items” from previous agendas during her manager’s report.

Irish said the town hasn’t yet heard from the state Department of Transportation on approval for the ATV access path that would connect the Temple trail system to the Whistle Stop Trail.

Irish also questioned whether there would need to be an ordinance to approve the ATV access at a town meeting versus approving via board policy, especially given that this path is four miles long.

“My concern is with policy and issues, we can address (those) rapidly,” Leavitt said. “With an ordinance and town meeting, it would be a year-long process.”

Saviello agreed, suggested that the board let the current access paths “operate, flow through,” “wait and see how it goes” and then decide what is a “realistic policy.”

The access would follow Temple Road to Main Street, where ATVers would be able to enter the Whistle Stop Trail next to Shelly’s Hometown Market.

In other business, Irish told the board that the faulty septic tank at 6 Gilbert Street, which has been the center of a lot of town discussion, is not yet repaired — well past expectations that repairs would be finished by October.

This is because the abutting neighbors will not let Code Enforcement Office Charlie Lavin, Western Maine Community Action and other companies working to fix the septic tank remove wooden posts on a town easement within the abutters’ property that is needed to access the septic tank.

Leavitt suggested the town handle the contract because then they would have the right to pull out the posts on the easement.

Irish said the town is looking into “further legal action,” including the town taking over.

Other unfinished items include:

• Dirigo Engineering, working alongside Maine Rural Development is still working on reports and loan grant submissions for the town’s work on the water-transmission line.

• Kent Wiles of Wiles Remembrance Center has commenced stonework at the East Dixfield Cemetery.

• The posting for the events coordinator position had only seen one application as of Nov. 16. The deadline was Friday, Nov. 19.

• Irish said updates on the town’s rules for marijuana dispensaries might need to be addressed through an amendment to the town’s land-use portion of the zoning ordinance. This would require town meeting approval from 100 voters or more. Irish is looking into other options that would allow the board to issue licenses for upcoming renewals in the time being.

• Mt. Blue School District (RSU 9) has begun the community-input portion of the strategic-planning process. The strategic planning committee is looking for input from Wilton community members (parents, students and residents alike) via a survey. There are hardcopies of the survey in the town office’s entry way and a digital form online.

Editor’s note: a previous version of this article stated that the Wilton and the Town of Jay would be combining their water departments. The article has been amended to state that it would be a combination of Wilton’s water department and the North Jay Water District.

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