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Wilton's Finance Board Isn't Sold on Fiber Optics

WILTON, Conn. – The question about fiber optics from the Wilton Board of Finance was simple: Where are the cost benefits?

A presentation made by Wilton’s Fiber Optic Steering Committee on Tuesday night to the board didn’t succeed in selling the importance of the project.

Doing the project now would be ideal, because a new sewer line is being dug on Wolfpit Road. Having the roads open and available to lay conduit for the fiber cable now would save the town about $1.3 million, said Sandy Dennies, Wilton's chief financial officer.

The capital project would cost $1.87 million, if it were done now to take advantage of the street construction.

The committee has proposed creating a redundant fiber optic system that would connect the Town Hall campus, the Board of Education and the Wilton Library. The idea is that this loop would mean these sites never be without their systems.

“Wilton is probably one of the last in southwestern Connecticut to have this type of connection,” said Dennies. New Canaan has the most complete redundant system of any neighboring town, she said.

However, board member Jim Meinhold asked what the “tangible benefits” would be. Board member Andrew Pforzheimer and Vice Chair Lynne Vanderslice echoed that thought.

“Is there some reason that the people who spent a lot of time talking about this and working on this couldn’t sit down together and pulled together a list of expected benefits?” Meinhold asked. He said he wanted a ballpark figure of savings or any other benefits of the fiber loop.

“There is a cost associated with it,” Vanderslice said. “At the end of the day, what are the hard numbers?”

“Don’t give us a list of reasons why we should do this that includes the words faster, better. Those are the wrong words to use,” Pforzheimer said. “A big list of why this is great is not addressing what we’re talking about.”

State Rep. Gail Lavielle, R-Wilton, a board member, and said the board needs a financial analysis of how long it would take to pay off the project and a list of advantages over the town's current system.

Ultimately, the steering committee agreed to give the finance board a return of investment analysis before the Town Meeting on May 7. 

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