Council Hears Infrastructure Investment Strategy

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On Monday, June 24, City Planner Gary Norris and Economic Development Director Steve Masten, presented an Infrastructure Investment Strategy to Milford City Council at the request of City Manager, Richard Carmean. In April 2013, Mr. Carmean requested that Mr. Norris and Mr. Masten identify potential sites for future economic development, identify Delaware communities and state agencies taking action to promote Economic Development, and develop an economic infrastructure investment strategy to serve the annexed and growth areas identified in the city of Milford.

“We are set well for future growth due to annexation that took place a few years ago,” Mr. Carmean stated. According to information presented by Mr. Norris, eight properties were identified as Economic Growth Zones, and only one, the Hall Property in the southeast section of Milford, was not currently included in the corporate limits of Milford. It was recommended that several of the properties require a zoning change in the city’s Comprehensive Plan from residential to light industrial. In addition, it was recommended that some of the properties will need additional infrastructure added to the site in the form of electric, sewer and water.

“Milford is doing an excellent job,” said Connie Holland of the Delaware State Planning Office. “You have an excellent strategic plan in place and that is going to put you ahead of the game. When Amazon decided to come to Delaware, they looked at both Smyrna and Middletown. They chose Middletown because the infrastructure was already in place, while Smyrna had not made a decision on some of the necessary utilities for Amazon to get started right away.” When asked whether the city or the developer paid for the infrastructure in Middletown, Mrs. Holland stated that the costs were shared between them.

“In essence, you are saying that we should get that infrastructure to these properties in order to keep Milford in the picture should a big industry decide to move into the area,” asked Councilman Skip Pikus. Mrs. Holland said that having the infrastructure already in place would make Milford a more viable choice over other towns.

“Infrastructure is scary when you are talking about a strategic plan,” said Councilwoman Katrina Wilson. “In the past, what we have done is to ask the developer to absorb the cost of infrastructure, but you are indicating we need to be willing to share costs in order to entice more business to our town.” Mrs. Holland agreed, but stated that the Governor has put together several grant packages and Milford’s master plan moves them to the top of the list for infrastructure grants.

“In addition, federal and state governments are right now focusing on healthy communities, and Milford is in the perfect position to jump on that bandwagon, with the large agriculture community, the adjacency to environmentally friendly areas and the general location of the town,” Mrs. Holland explained.

Mr. Masten and Mr. Carmean both explained that one example of Milford providing infrastructure to retain jobs in the city was the sewer line added to serve Baltimore Air Coil. Mr. Masten explained that the city now needs to consider adding a water line extension and tower to serve the company at an estimated cost of $5.4 million. The water line could allow Baltimore Air Coil to expand further and create additional jobs to the 408 already in existence at the company.

“Council may recall that I came to you for help to keep Baltimore Air Coil in town when they were running into problems with their sewer,” Mr. Carmean explained. “If we had not provided them with that infrastructure, they could not have expanded, and Milford would not only have lost the 175 jobs that were in existence then, but also the new jobs created when the company expanded. In fact, Baltimore Air Coil has closed other plants and moved those jobs to Milford.” Mr. Carmean also explained that a water line could be added to serve the company at a cost of approximately $500,000, with a water tower added later.

“It is time to look at Milford’s future,” said businessman David Burton as he spoke during public comment. “Good towns do not happen by accident, they need planning, and right now Milford has good management, a good council and a good economic development plan that should keep it strong.” Tom

Draper, owner of Draper Communications, agreed with Mr. Burton.“Milford is in an excellent location, has its own school system, a good hospital and an excellent retail base,” Mr. Draper said. “It is my belief that Milford will be one of the premier towns in Delaware.”

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