Downtown Milford Inc. (DMI) is pushing forward with a new plan to ensure the beautification of the downtown area. The Tree and Grate Project , which is part of the larger Milford Streetscape plan, is aimed at creating sidewalks that are attractive and more pedestrian friendly, encouraging individuals to venture downtown.
The Streetscape Project began in 1995 adding trees, shrubbery and brick sidewalks to Walnut Street and both sides of Front Street. Just a few years ago the aging shrubbery surrounding the trees was taken out and replaced with rocks. Although the idea was to substitute the shrubbery for a material that required less maintenance, the rocks soon became hazardous and created a very narrow and unsightly walkway for pedestrians.
Due to this latent effect, the Design Committee of DMI decided that action needed to be taken to ensure that streets were more people friendly and that beautification of the main streets would attract customers to downtown vendors and encourage the relocation of new businesses to Milford.
The Grate and Tree Project began as a pilot project last year on Front Street adjacent to Wilmington Trust. Three shade trees with grates and two benches were purchased for the site to encourage residents to enjoy the downtown area and open up the sidewalk for pedestrian traffic. Vintage Metal Works, a nationally known company based out of Milford, created grates around the trees which protect them from the heavy traffic volume along Front Street and enhance the appearance of downtown.
The success of the pilot project has led to the expansion of the Grate and Tree Project to include Walnut Street from NE and NW Front Street to City Hall, NW Front Street from Walnut Street to Church Street and possibly one block between Walnut Street and Washington Street. The first project has currently gone out to bid and is in the process of coming together.
“The winners of the bid will hopefully begin this fall,” commented DMI Member and Grate and Tree Project Advocate Mitch Edmondson. “The target date for completion will be the end of this year.”
According to Dr. Edmonson, the project will move several trees back from the road to protect them from passing vehicles while removing some trees completely to create more space. This will make the streets more pedestrian friendly by eliminating obstructions while beautifying the downtown area.
“By creating a more attractive area for people to shop, DMI hopes to increase business for downtown merchants and create a desire for new businesses to relocate to the area,” commented Dr. Edmondson. “We hope that this will help Milford become a destination for the arts, history and eco-tourism.”
The Grate and Tree Project is consistent with Downtown Milford Inc.’s branding effort which portrays the town as “Milford. River Town. Art Town. Home Town.” They have worked with the City of Milford, business owners and private donors to increase the marketing of downtown Milford to encourage local support for local businesses and marketing for newcomers to the area.
DMI is currently accepting donations for the Grate and Tree Project from individuals who would like to donate time and money. Downtown Milford Inc. can be reach by contacting their downtown office at (302) 839-1180 or by stopping in at 7 South Washington Street, Milford, DE 19963. For more information on DMI and the Grate and Tree Project visit http://downtownmilford.org/.