WILSON -- Wilson town and village officials are hosting a meeting at 6:30 p.m. today to discuss creating a master plan and they urge the public to attend -- and participate.
"We'd like as many people to come out as we can get -- youth, seniors, business owners, residents -- I'd love for everyone's voice to be heard," said Town Supervisor Joseph Jastrzemski. "This is the future of Wilson."
The public information session will be in the Wilson Senior High School auditorium
Using $50,000 procured by Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, Wilson officials have hired Wendel Duchscherer Architects and Engineers of Amherst to help create a master plan.
Wendy Weber Salvati, Wendel's project manager for the Wilson master plan, said her firm will begin tonight's meeting with a brief presentation on what a master plan is, why it's needed, and share some preliminary information her firm has gathered.
"Then we'll open it up to listen to whatever people have to tell us," she said. "We will also bring along comment sheets for those who do not wish to speak, but want to get their thoughts to us."
Salvati said that a Wilson advisory committee of about a dozen members will meet with the engineering firm on a regular basis. After goals have been outlined as a result of the first meeting, a second public meeting will be held "to see if we're headed in the right direction," she said.
"After that meeting, we'll finalize our goals and objectives and shape out our findings and recommendations and then we'll hold our final public meeting," she said. "This is what we call a workshop, really, where we'll introduce our implementation strategy, which basically tells the community how to put this plan into action -- where to find funding and technical assistance, for example."
Salvati added, "We hope to have this plan finished by the end of the year."
Then it will be up to the town and village boards to adopt the plan. "We both need to adopt this plan because although our goals are not different, we operate under separate zoning codes," explained Village Mayor Patrick Kelahan.
Kelahan also urged residents to attend tonight's meeting.
"This is really a community brainstorming session, asking, 'Where are we going?' If there are around 5,000 residents here, that's 5,000 great ideas, at least," he said.
Kelahan, Jastrzemski and Salvati all agreed that having a master plan is a requirement in attaining grant money.
"One thing is very clear," said Kelahan. "If you apply for grants from the state of New York, for example, they want to see that you've given some foresight and thought to your plans and that you're organized, so this is a legitimizing step for the town and village."
Salvati recommended that, "The community should revisit this plan on an annual or biannual basis to keep it fresh and up-to-date. It's important, too, to ask, 'Are we implementing our plan?'
"We will look at many areas in this plan -- the economic revitalization of the village; agricultural preservation and protection; and the waterfront, for example," Salvati said.
"A master plan is one of the most important tools to help a community plan for its future," Salvati added. "We ask, 'Where have you been? Where are you now? And where do you want to be?' You use the plan as a tool to get there."