On Monday, July 14, David Hitchens, President of First State Manufacturing, presented a request to Milford City Council regarding an exchange of land between the company and the city. Currently, First State Manufacturing owns 1.85 acres of land used by Milford Little League. The organization uses the land for parking, but a portion of the concession stand, the batting cages and a portion of the bleachers for one field are also located on the property. First State Manufacturing would like to trade ownership of the strip of land in the ballpark with a lot in Independence Commons, the industrial park located on Airport Road.
“We have recently obtained a contract with Amtrak and have a new partnership with ILC,” explained Mr. Hitchens. “This expansion has caused us to outgrow our building. Right now, we have a parking agreement with the city for the baseball field, but company growth has required us to take a good look at our options.” Mr. Hitchens explained that the company would use the land in the industrial park to build an administrative facility and convert the current offices in their present building to production space.
Mr. Hitchens explained that the new administrative complex at the industrial park helps the company because they would be able to expand without affecting the ballpark. Gary Emory, Director of Milford Parks and Recreation agrees that transferring the land from First State Manufacturing to the city would be beneficial for both parties.
“How can you put a price on providing services for the kids in the city?” Mr. Emory said. “Right now, Little League needs that land and by transferring it to the city, it would make it one contiguous site. In fact, Parks and Recreation is maintaining that land since it has always been considered ballpark land, so we are expending money to maintain land we don’t even own.”
According to Bill Bullock, President of Milford Little League, when the building where First State Manufacturing is located was owned by Sussex Company, he agreed that Little League could use it at no cost. When Sussex Company went out of business and the building was purchased by First State Manufacturing, Mr. Bullock said that a clause was added to the deed that the section of land could be used by Little League forever.
“If First State expands back into the parking area, they would have difficulty getting tractor trailers to the back of their property,” Mr. Bullock said. “That section of the ballpark is critical to us for parking. In fact, we want to put in a t-ball field, but can’t afford to give up the parking area. It would be very beneficial to us for the city to purchase the land so that all of the property belongs to either the city or to Little League. It would also help First State expand which will bring more jobs into the community.” Mr. Bullock explained that it is the only strip of land that is not owned by either the city or Little League.
City Manager Richard Carmean said that the land trade would really not benefit the city itself. He said an initial review of the deed did not reveal a clause that prevented First State from taking over the land, but that they were still researching the matter as there could be other documents involved that provide right-of-way use to Little League. However, Mr. Carmean felt that the transaction would greatly benefit the children of the area.
“The children of Milford and surrounding areas would benefit because this would secure that area for Little League in the future,” Mr. Carmean said. “Because First State owns it, they could really cause a mess if they decide to take it back. Not only that, making the trade would be a huge benefit to economic development in the town as it would allow First State to expand.”
Mr. Hitchens said that council agreed to begin the process of reviewing the feasibility of the transaction. He said that two appraisals were necessary and that First State had agreed to absorb the cost of the appraisals.
“This is a win-win for everyone involved,” Mr. Hitchens said. “The city gets a parcel of land that will make the ballpark contiguous, while we are able to expand without having a negative impact on the children in the town.”