Over the next several months the City of Milford and the Institute for Public Administration (IPA) at the University of Delaware will partner in a project that will formulate a framework for Complete Communities in Delaware. This research will take a look at the town of Milford and build a framework that includes planning and economic development, transportation planning and policy, healthy communities initiatives and local government training. Officials at the University of Delaware plan to use this developed framework for assisting communities across the state of Delaware as they begin to plan for the future of their own municipalities.
The University of Delaware chose Milford and the town of Elsmere as the two pilot communities for this project. The increasing focus on economic development by the City of Milford and Milford City Council was the driving force behind the University’s decision to choose Milford.
“When choosing what communities to partner with we really tried to look at which communities had a vision for growth,” commented Complete Communities Project Manager Marcia Scott. “Milford’s Comprehensive Economic Strategy Plan, the Regional Master Plan and the creation of the Economic Development Panel were all factors that were looked at.”
With a change in development and society as a whole the Institute for Public Administration will be constructing strategies to help city planning in the modern age. In the past, communities were built so that individuals could walk to businesses and services that they needed in their daily lives. With the invention of the automobile the era of suburbanization created land patterns in communities that promoted sprawl where individuals began living in their own separate communities that were not connected to the larger surrounding cities. The easiest example of this is outlying neighborhoods that are not connected to the city by pedestrian infrastructure such as sidewalks.
Previous research by the IPA has stated that these “Compartmentalized, built environments have limited transportation choices, opportunities for active recreation, healthy lifestyles, and access to healthy foods. Inactivity and sedentary lifestyles have contributed to skyrocketing health care costs, chronic obesity, and related diseases.”
IPA’s research has also shown that recently there has been a movement by individuals away from sprawling suburbia and back to urban town centers due to many factors including the economic recession. IPA’s research states that Delaware’s changing demographics will impact livability issues across the state and must be taken into consideration when developing future economic planning. By the year 2030, Delaware is expected to be one of the “grayest” states in the nation and Sussex County’s senior population will double.
The Complete Communities project will look at transportation planning, land use planning and community design to evaluate community livability and sustainability. A group of community stakeholders will be chosen by the University to help facilitate discussions in these areas through monthly workshops. By looking at issues such as efficient land use, transportation equity, greater livability and environmental resources, stakeholders will assist the Institute for Public Administration in determining what principles, planning practices, incentives design strategies and public policies support Complete Communities. These ideas will be used to develop a larger framework for state planning purposes and a model for future development in municipalities across the state of Delaware.