City of Milford Update from Mayor Shupe: Reflecting on 2015; Welcoming 2016

At the beginning of 2015, the City of Milford made a commitment to residents to focus on expanding economic development opportunities, restoring aging infrastructure and preparing for future growth. As the year comes to an end, I am grateful for the dedication of our city employees as well as the energy, enthusiasm and engagement from our residents, businesses and non-profit organizations as we met these challenges together. In true Milford tradition, we confronted adversity as an opportunity to build a stronger community and have created a foundation for our town to build upon moving into a new and exciting age.

Expanding Quality Healthcare Opportunities 

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

Working with our partners at Bayhealth Medical Center, we are continuing to meet the demand for quality healthcare options across all age groups. In addition to Bayhealth’s, new $250 million Health Campus, which will break ground in our Southeast region early next year, a new partnership with Nemours/AI Dupont Children’s Hospital has been established with their announcement to build on site at the new camps to offer our residents pediatric and senior care. This ability to offer and attract the highest quality health care providers, will allow Bayhealth and the city of Milford to become regional players and increase economic development opportunities across all sectors of the economy. Bayhealth and the City of Milford will continue to work together to listen and work with residents of Milford and health care experts as the development and construction of the property continues to evolve.

The current Bayhealth campus on the Milford Memorial site will continue to serve our community through the 2019 proposed opening date for the new campus. Starting in 2016, Bayhealth and the City of Milford will work together with Trammell Crow, a national firm recognized as the top redevelopment company in the industry, to develop a plan to repurpose the Clarke Avenue facility during the construction of the new health campus. Bayhealth will host several town halls in the upcoming year to listen to ideas and suggestions from the public regarding the project. Committed to finding the best use for the surrounding area and the city as a whole, the City of Milford and Bayhealth will engage the community as the redevelopment process begins.

Downtown Master Plan Creates Rivertown Rebirth

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

During the month of September, city leaders, business owners, community organizations and residents, joined for several planning sessions to discuss the future of downtown Milford and to imagine exactly how harnessing the power of the Mispillion River will allow us to expand upon our success for future generations. The nationally recognized economic development firm Arnett Muldrow & Associates was hired by the City of Milford, through a USDA grant administered by the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO), as they held several public workshops with residents and business owners to develop a holistic plan that celebrates the beauty of our natural resources, encourages the ingenuity of our people and commits to preserving our quality of life.

The City is excited for the final Rivertown Rebirth Report that will be presented in the Council Chambers on Monday, January 11, 2016 at 7pm. During this session, Council will set forth priorities for the downtown district as well as establish a committee composed of community leaders to move those initiatives forward. Among those priorities will be working with local businesses and building owners in developing plans for several large vacant buildings in key areas to attract more foot traffic and investment from the private sector. In 2016 the Economic Development Committee is tasked with developing clear, definitive incentives that are readily available for the public and potential investors to review online. These incentives will be utilized to assist existing and expanding businesses here in Milford and attract new businesses to Milford that offer job creation opportunities for local residents. All of these opportunities will be discussed during the Rivertown Rebirth Workshop at City Hall on Monday, January 11 at 7pm and I encourage residents and visitors to join in the process aimed at evolving these ideas into concrete strategies in 2016.

Through an additional grant from the USDA, the City of Milford has partnered with the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford, Downtown Milford Inc. and the Delaware Tourism Office to facilitate a tourism feasibility study conducted by the University of Delaware Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management Department. Continuing into the new year, the goal is to assess our tourism industry and launch a marketing campaign to attract travelers within targeted demographics to Milford’s top attractions.  The results from the study will be discussed publicly during a City Council meeting and local business owners are encouraged to review the information and utilize the empirical data to assist in their own marketing decisions.

Repairing and Planning Infrastructure

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

The City of Milford continues to repair aging infrastructure while preparing for growth in all areas of our city. The Water and Waste Water Departments have had a busy year as several large projects are underway. Completed projects this year include the Washington Street Sewage Pump Station Rehabilitation Project, Southeast Milford  Phase 2 Water Main Extension Project, SE Front Street Water, Sewer and Street Rehabilitation Project, Shawnee Acres Forcemain Upgrade and Well 11R Replacement.

During 2016, the crews expect the South East Milford Well and Water Treatment Facility, South East Milford Elevated Storage Tank Project, Washington Street Water Treatment Plant and Washington Street Elevated Storage Tank Rehabilitation to be completed. Due to an approved referendum by our residents, the city has received $2 million in grants from USDA. The grants, combined with the voter-approved $1.6 million loan and another $400,000 transferred from sewer reserves, will allow the city to make $4 million in sewer improvements, thus a substantial savings to taxpayers. These projects will include Fisher Avenue Pump Station Rehabilitation, North Street Pump Station Rehabilitation, Shawnee Acres Pump Station Replacement, inflow and infiltration improvements project and system wide SCADA improvements. Our Streets Department will undertake several projects to repair roadways in Milford with Truitt Avenue and Airport Road scheduled for repaving this Spring.

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

Preparing for Growth, Preserving Quality of Life

In May, Rob Pierce joined the City of Milford as the new City Planner and Economic Development Department Head. Mr. Pierce has added tremendous value to the City as he has made revisions and recommended amendments to the City Comprehensive Plan to prepare for strategic growth in support of economic development. Working with Code Enforcement officials, Pierce has begun an ongoing process of analysis of enforcement polices and methods used to recommend strategies to preserve Milford’s property values and enhance overall beautification.

The Planning Department will work with the new City Manager this upcoming year to increase efforts and empower residents to be proactive in assisting city officials. The City purchased software for the development of a citywide GIS system and has begun the development of parcel and infrastructure databases to be used in the city planning decision making processes which includes increased management and preventative maintenance for public utilities.

Enhancing Recreational Opportunities 

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

Under the direction of our new Parks & Recreation Director Brad Dennehy, the department continued to offer the residents of Milford a wide array of recreational opportunities and continued to develop our extensive park lands. The newly developed Dog Park which was opened in late 2014 was further enhanced with the addition of a mulched area, allowing larger dogs an area to dig and play. The Goat Island Nature Preserve and trail was enriched by adding a layer of wood chips, and was showcased to over 270 runners for the first time, during the inaugural Running of the Goat 5k hosted by the Greater Milford Boys & Girls Club in August.

A year round tree diagnostic and fertilization program was implemented for the trees in the downtown area, with the aim of having healthy and vibrant greenery downtown. Low voltage LED lights were installed in one of the downtown parks, giving them ability to change colors consistent with the seasons throughout the year. Solar powered restrooms were added to the Tony Silicato Memorial Park, allowing the removal of the portable bathrooms and irrigation was installed at the soccer fields along with a new system of fertilization.

The spring of 2015 saw the annual Bug & Bud Festival, combined with the first Shipbuilder River Race, a kayak, canoe and stand up paddle board race on the Mispillion River, complete with an awards party at the Vinyard Shipyard. Parks & Recreation continued to work with various civic groups to clean up the banks of the Mispillion River, the Milford community cemetery, the Union cemetery and various other areas as part of being good stewards of our environment.

 

Quality youth programing has been instrumental in the history of Parks & Recreation. This year record numbers of children turned out for outdoor and indoor soccer, basketball, swim lessons, youth wrestling and summer camps. Day trips for both children and adults were also well attended. Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the Parks & Recreation Department and we will be celebrating throughout the year by reflecting on not only how far Parks & Recreation has come, but how far it can go moving forward.

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

Committed to Customer Service  

The City of Milford Customer Service Department opened their doors at the new location in downtown Milford under the leadership of Debbie Johnson. Customers are taking advantage of the drive-thru window and enjoy visiting the renovated office that has nicely blended the historic building with modern amenities. History buffs are excited to see the bank vault remains in the historical structure that initially housed the former Milford Trust Company. Our staff has been working on making new and existing residents feel welcomed by providing a happy and positive work environment.  Two new employees have joined the customer service teams’ efforts to serve City of Milford customers in the most efficient way possible.

With the help of several staff members at City Hall, including Deputy City Clerk Christine Crouch who was instrumental in the project, the City of Milford website underwent a complete redesign, down to incorporating the City’s brand adopted by City Council several years ago.  Using analytics for search and services content and integration of social media, resulted in a more user-friendly layout including an updated version for mobile devices. The front page news alerts have been modified to include a link that provides related information.  Our City of Milford Facebook page was created and is updated on a regular basis to keep residents aware of City service announcements and updates.

New Year Brings New Faces 

Milford City Council

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

James Burk, the former Chairman of the City of Milford Planning Commission, filed for the Ward 2 seat available in 2015, after Councilman Dirk Gleysteen decided not to run for reelection. Jamie Burk grew up in Sussex County and is a graduate of Cape Henlopen High School and the University of Delaware. He is employed as a Building Inspector and Code Enforcement Constable for Kent County.  Mr. Burk has a wife and three children and is an active member of St. John’s Catholic Church in Milford.  Jamie volunteers extensively in Milford with Downtown Milford Inc., Home of the Brave, the Greater Milford Boys & Girls Club, the Salvation Army and is a member of the Knights of Columbus.  Burk was a member of the City of Milford Planning Commission from 2008 to 2015 and currently serves on the City of Milford Annexation, Police and Public Works committees. Burk has been a positive addition to City Council, bringing his expertise in code enforcement and love of downtown Milford to the table as we continue to plan and execute strategies to strengthen both.

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

Lisa Ingram Peel was elected in September as the new City Council member to fill the 2nd Ward seat left vacant by the late Skip Pikus who passed away in July. Lisa grew up in Milford and is a graduate of Milford High School. Two of her children attend Mispillion Elementary and the youngest is in kindergarten at Morris Early Childhood Center. Peel works at Delaware Technical Community College in Dover as the Instructional Director of Education. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in education leadership at the University of Delaware. Peel currently serves on the Community Affairs and Finance committees and has been a positive addition to City Council as she continues to work on opportunities for downtown revitalization and expansion of recreational opportunities.

 

 

City Manager 

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

City Council unanimously approved a contract appointing Eric Norenberg as the next City Manager of Milford. Following a national recruitment, Norenberg, who has been City Manager of Oberlin, OH for the past eight years, was selected from a field of more than 90 candidates. He will begin work on January 1, 2016. During Norenberg’s tenure as Oberlin City Manager, the city earned many regional, state and national awards and recognitions, including Best Hometown in Northeast Ohio by Ohio Magazine, Best Intergenerational Communities award by Generations United, Team NEO Economic Development Plus Award for Business Attraction and Solid Waste Operator of the Year by the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) Ohio Buckeye Chapter.

I am looking forward to the experience and professionalism that Mr. Norenberg will bring to the City of Milford as our new City Manager. With three decades of municipal government experience, Mr. Norenberg brings leadership through his proven success in economic development, utility and public works administration and public communication. As we continue to strengthen our local economy, enhance the quality of our health care options, increase our downtown revitalization efforts and grow our educational opportunities, Mr. Norenberg will lead Milford towards a vibrant and exciting future.

Chief of Police 

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

This past August, Police Chief Keith Hudson announced his retirement after almost 40 years of service with the Milford Police Department. Protecting and serving his community through four decades, Chief Hudson started from humble beginnings as a dispatcher and worked his way to Chief as he carried out his work with the highest level of honesty, integrity and compassion towards all of the residents and visitors he served. As the city grew exponentially over his tenure, his philosophy of treating all people with dignity and respect never wavered. I know that he will continue this commitment and service to the city of Milford long after his retirement

As interviews for the position began, it was easy to recognize that the quality and reputation of the candidates that applied for the position of the City of Milford Police Chief spoke volumes about the prestige that the Milford Police Department carries throughout the State of Delaware and beyond. I was proud to see Lieutenant Kenneth Brown of the Milford Police Department excel among the selected candidates as his experiences throughout his career and vision for the future of the department confirmed his integrity, honesty and ability to serve the community with dignity and respect. Lieutenant Brown is dedicated to developing a strong, compassionate force that will address the challenges of a growing city as we meet these opportunities with a proactive approach to community policing and a commitment to continued, open communication with our residents and community leaders.

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

Submitted by Mayor Shupe

2016 Brings Exciting Opportunities

With our commitment to expanding quality health care options, revitalizing our downtown district, enhancing recreational opportunities and improving our local economy, the City of Milford will continue to develop and execute short and long-term strategies to secure our success in 2016 and beyond. Leadership in all departments will continue to engage and work alongside Milford residents, businesses and non-profit organizations to ensure that we are serving their interests in expanding economic development opportunities, restoring aging infrastructure and preparing for future growth.

As we look forward to 2016, I encourage our residents to stay in constant communication with their elected officials and City Hall. A list of Milford City Council members and their contact information can be found at http://cityofmilford.com/175/Member-Information and contact information for all City resources including my office can be found at http://cityofmilford.com. If unsure about what department or individual can assist with a specific concern, individuals can also call City Hall at 302-424-3712. Remember that we are here not only to help with your concerns but to listen to your ideas of how we continue to Move Milford Forward.

Submitted by Mayor Bryan Shupe

The viewpoints page features letters to the editor. To submit a letter, email mc@newszap.com. Letters are not the views of the Milford Chronicle or Independent Newsmedia Inc USA.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.