By NATE BEIER | Wilton
It’s been roughly six months since our debacle with the Wilton Pool started.
Do you remember the days when the village president called the cops on high school girls to remove them from the pool because they were working and never told they were suspended? Do you remember when our village board was faced with video of their pool manager being on her phone while on active duty next to the pool and didn’t address it? Do you remember how those same board members failed to keep our pool open an entire summer because they didn’t want to find a solution to work with the lifeguards, citing they had a plethora of demands to be met before coming back?
If you forgot, now is the time to remember.
What we had last summer can’t be allowed to happen again. It was unfortunate. It was messy. It didn’t need to happen. And yet it did.
Yes, I know I was a casualty of the Great Pool Problem of 2022, and you could write off anything I say as “sour grapes,” perhaps. However, I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who could truly say I didn’t love the pool and the work I did there with the kids, the public and my lifeguards.
I’ll also remind everyone of how remarkable those guards were last year in trying to navigate this situation throughout the summer. Yes, eventually they paid the price for sticking up not only for me, but also for the safety of their patrons, but they showed conviction and didn’t back down when they saw wrong.
They were met with a rather cold response from our village board. A board that didn’t ask what the problems were, but instead were quick to dole out punishment in a sloppy and confusing manner, regardless.
It was a failure by our board to truly, genuinely listen to the problems at hand that ultimately made those guards uncomfortable with coming back to work for them. That’s a problem that extends beyond our pool fiasco of last summer, however.
Since sometime in August, our village board has stopped taking public comments at its regular meetings, with the exception of some discussion when it came to our 2023 budget meeting back in November.
If our elected officials aren’t taking the time to listen to people who elected them, what are they there for? How good of a job can they actually be doing?
I know most people make excuses for why they shouldn’t run for office, but this spring, we need people to step up for our village board vacancies. We’ll have a few spots open, including that of the village president. Currently our seven-member board has only four people who were actually elected to it. The other three were appointed to their positions as members left by the remaining board members.
We’ve watched this current set of board members become less transparent with what they’re doing. We’ve seen them turn the sound off on the people they’re supposed to represent. Yes, there are some positive things accomplished as well, but we need to expect more of our elected officials.
By moving printed notices out of the most local newspaper for the village, by shutting down Facebook pages when someone comments in a way “The State” doesn’t like to hear, by not keeping their own website updated with correct information, and by shutting out public comment at public meeting, these are all signs that something isn’t right within our village construct.
We need concerned citizens to step up this spring and offer their talents by running for village board. There are a number of folks in Wilton who have different life experiences who can help rebuild trust between our local government and the people who elect them. What type of person could do that? The answer may be staring back at you in your mirror.