WILTON — The Select Board on Tuesday, Aug. 3, approved a $10,000 bid from Ecological Instincts to conduct a watershed study at Varnum Pond, the town’s source for drinking water.

Water and Wastewater Superintendent Heinz Gossman suggested the Manchester consulting company because the town used it on this project in the past and found it to be satisfactory.

Gossman said the aim of the study is “to get good data about Varnum” for at least five years to show “that the pond is good and in better shape than it was in the ’70s.”

Varnum Pond, located in north Wilton, supplies the town’s drinking water, which is filtered through a water treatment plant.

Alongside the study, Ecological Instincts will conduct water tests and do “more targeted outreach” by mailing a sewer bill insert to residents who live on the pond.

Gossman said he would like to “go door to door in a year or two and just talk to people about their septic systems” and how they affect the pond.


Ecological Instincts is a “woman-owned environmental consulting and ecological design firm” based in Maine with intentions “to bring about positive environmental change.”

The study will be paid for with grant money. A grant funded the project in past years, Gossman said.

In other business, the town accepted about $8,000 in donations for the Wilton Blueberry Festival, which is being held today and Saturday. The contributions came from individuals and businesses in Wilton and Franklin County, Town Manager Rhonda Irish said.

The town has already allocated $16,000 toward this year’s festival.

In a phone interview following the meeting, Selectperson Tom Saviello said any leftover money will go into a special account for next year’s festival.

Saviello has been among those helping to coordinate an abbreviated version of the festival since Chairwoman Shannon Smith and the festival’s board of directors announced they were canceling the event due to concerns about COVID-19 guidelines, which changed just days after the announcement.


Saviello said at the board’s June 1 meeting that he wanted to coordinate the festival in the eleventh hour “to keep it so we don’t lose it.”

“I think next year we’ll have a better plan to put into place,” Saviello said at the June meeting. “You give it up two years in a row, people lose their touch to it. Let’s just pick it up and see what we can do to keep it going.”

On the phone, Saviello said that moving forward, he thinks “the best thing to do will be to have the town” run the festival, as opposed to the Wilton Blueberry Festival Corp., which has run the event since it was established in 2004.

During the meeting, Saviello also suggested the town hire a festival coordinator in the future so they can “easily raise money.”

The board approved Irish’s request to close the boat launch at Wilson Lake and part of Canal Street on Saturday for the festival.

Irish said this happens every year to make way for fireworks preparation and the parade.


During the meeting, the board also passed a remote meeting policy for Select Board meetings. The policy makes way for “hybrid-meeting participants” so that the public can participate remotely.

It’s not much more effort to set up zoom for the public, easy to display on a television in the meeting room, Irish said.

Selectpersons are expected to be present but can participate via Zoom if they need to leave the region or if they cannot gather in person because of bad weather.

In other business, the board passed a motion to have a public comment session on amendments to Wilton’s Parks and Facilities Use policy.

“Some people don’t even realize we have public rules for our parks,” Irish said.

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