The Wilton Selectboard is seeking voter approval to declare a large section of downtown “slum and blight,” making it eligible to apply for a federal grant program.

The town will hold a public hearing and special town meeting on the matter at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 16, at the Town Office, where voters will decide whether to declare a slum and blight area from Wilson Lake along Main Street to Depot Street, and along Depot Street to U.S. Route 2.

Town Manager Rhonda Irish said the town is applying for the Community Development Block Grant slum and blight designation because it is not eligible for CDBG programs for low- to moderate-income communities. In order to apply for those types of grants, more than 51 percent of the town’s population has to have low to moderate incomes. Forty-nine percent of the town’s population is in that income range.

Irish said having the area declared slum and blight under the grant program is a means to get money into the community.

“It doesn’t mean we feel that about our community,” she said.

To apply for the grant, the town also will have to prove at least 25 percent of the buildings in the area are deteriorating and that the public infrastructure in the area is in a general state of deterioration.

Officials from the grant program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will then review the application and make a determination as to whether the district in Wilton comes under the slum and blight designation, and will receive the grant.

The town would have to submit a letter of intent to the grant program in January.

The grant application will be one of the first actions taken by Richmond-based consultant Darryl Sterling, with whom the town voted in October to contract. Town officials hired Sterling for six months, with the possibility of a contract extension, to start rolling out economic development initiatives in Wilton.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]

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