WILTON — At its meeting Tuesday night, the Wilton Selectboard voted to hold a special election Jan. 5 to fill the board’s vacant seat following the resignation of the board’s chairman last month.

The board also approved a suggestion from a member to display signs of support for the missing El Faro crew, one of whom is a Wilton resident. The Selectboard also discussed the progress on the Forster Mill site, which is undergoing environmental assessment.

Selectwoman Tiffany Maiuri opened the meeting with a moment of silence for the missing El Faro crew members, one of whom, Michael Holland, is a Wilton resident. Maiuri suggested that the town display signs on municipal property showing support and hope for the safe return of the crew members. The suggestion was supported by the other three selectmen, and Town Manager Rhonda Irish said she would begin working on putting these signs in place on Wednesday.

After accepting the resignation of former Selectboard chairman Paul Berkey, the board moved to hold a regular 45-day election process to fill the vacant seat.

The board had three options to move forward to fill the vacant seat: the normal 45-day period with a special election in January, a speedy 24-day process that would include a Nov. 3 election, or remaining a four-member board until the town holds its regularly scheduled elections in June. The board expressed concern that the shortened process would not allow a fair amount of time for candidates to get their nomination paperwork completed. The board was also wary about remaining a four-member board until June, because they wanted to have a fifth member on the board for the town budget process in February 2016 — which a Jan. 5 election would allow for.

The board named Maiuri to serve as chairwoman of the board, a position she will hold for a year. Before “reluctantly accepting” Berkey’s resignation letter, Maiuri said she “was grateful for the time he has served this town.”

Berkey, who was originally elected to the board in 2012 to fill a vacancy, was reelected in 2014 to serve until June 2017. Berkey announced at the end of last month that he would resign effective Oct. 1 because he was moving out of state. The person elected to fill Berkey’s seat will serve until June 2017 and will then have to be re-elected to serve a full three-year term.

Irish gave the Selectboard an update on the Forster Mill project, which is currently in phase two of assessments under the Department of Environmental Protection’s Brownfields program.

“The new focus is now on the Forster Mill,” Irish said. “Now is the time to look ahead to what it can be used for after (the cleanup).”

Irish said that once the results of the phase two assessments come back, the town will know if the site could qualify for up to three $200,000 Brownfields grants that would then be used to conduct an environmental cleanup of the site to make it usable for future development.

“This particular property is going to need to come down,” Irish said. “The buildings themselves are not safe.”

She also told the board that she wants to conduct a survey of residents to gather ideas on what the site could be used for if the town was successful in obtaining funding to conduct an environmental cleanup, stating that the location just outside of downtown makes it a candidate for several development options including business or public green space.

The focus on redeveloping the site comes in the wake of the success the town recently had with another Brownfields project at the former Wilton Tannery site on Route 2, which is now the Wilson Stream Business Park under the private ownership of selectman John Black.

Other items discussed at the meeting included the approval of a special town meeting to be held Oct. 20 to address federal funding that has been offered to the town for its waste treatment construction project. Irish said that Wilton was selected to receive a $2,750,000 loan and $1,350,000 grant from the USDA Rural Development program, and that a town meeting must be held to discuss the acceptance of the funding.

The board also moved to request a speed assessment from the Maine Department of Transportation on Davis Court, a dead end road in town that currently has no speed limit. Irish said that residents have complained that drivers often speed on the road.

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate


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