Residents asked to help develop Downtown Plan

Milford Mayor Bryan W. Shupe

Milford has made great strides towards economic development over the last 12 months. Among the many success stories, we have seen a commitment from Bayhealth to construct a new $250 million Health Campus, the creation of 350 new jobs at Perdue and the expansion of employment opportunities at First State Manufacturing. Small business continues to grow as the city of Milford has seen expansion and development of a range of businesses including small boutiques, restaurants and professional services. Along with small and large business expansion throughout our town, the City has made a commitment to creating a business friendly environment through economic development incentives based on job growth and securing a renewable funding source for economic development efforts through the sale of properties in our business park. The City of Milford has also committed to the preservation of our quality of life by opening the Goat Island Nature Preserve, the new Dog Park and maintaining the beauty of the Mispillion River and the Mispilion Riverwalk. Milford has been recognized throughout the state of Delaware for the success we have experienced. Most recently seen in the form of an article published in Delaware Today highlighting our town and suggesting that it may be the next ‘Boom Town’ in Delaware.

With our recent success in the forefront, the City of Milford is also experiencing a lot of moving parts, especially in the downtown area. As new businesses have opened and current businesses have expanded, there remains several vacant buildings that are vital to the revitalization of downtown Milford. The consolidation effort by M&T Bank resulted in a beautiful, historic building that sits on the corner of our two main streets in downtown to stand empty. This challenge has resulted in what I see as a great opportunity to enhance the use of that building and to add a downtown business that will increase foot traffic to the entire downtown area and assist in the success of existing businesses on Walnut Street and Front Street. Officials at M&T Bank and the City of Milford have created a great partnership in which together we aim to find the best use for enhancing the ongoing downtown revitalization efforts. This is just one example that reflects several locations including the former Warren Furniture building, the old fire house, the former Middle School and the Bayhealth Clarke Avenue facility, once the hospital moves its operations in 2018. In each of these efforts, the owners of the properties are working closely with the City of Milford to ensure that the best possible use for the locations are pursued.

Acknowledging that the City of Milford and my office represent the residents of our town, the Downtown Master Plan will allow us to move towards a unified vision that is created by residents, business owners, local organizations and community leaders. Aspiring to help take on this large undertaking, the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO) approached me to discuss the needs for our community and our ongoing economic development efforts. As a result of several in-depth discussions with Diane Laird of Downtown Delaware, DEDO offered the City of Milford a $24,000 grant to implement a Downtown Master Plan that will include a vision for downtown Milford, created by the people of Milford. I believe the discussion alone will allow us to challenge ourselves and our ideas on what Milford can become. Milford City Council demonstrated their commitment to the Downtown Master Plan by approving $3,250 towards the plan itself and $20,000 towards its implementation. I am excited about the possibilities that will come from these public sessions and encourage every person that has a interest in Milford’s future to be involved.

Our downtown community will define the future of Milford and can act as a catalyst for growth throughout our city. A vibrant downtown will help refine our sense of place in Milford and enhance the opportunities that can be found here. With many successful businesses, art galleries, cultural experiences and recreational opportunities already found here in downtown Milford, we have a great foundation to build a vision for generations to come.

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