By Terry Rogers
Bill Pilecki and Patrick Bailey have been working hard on a project they both believe will not only bring economic benefits to Milford, but will also help enhance education throughout the state. The two men are members of the board of directors for Milford Aquarium, Inc., a project that was first discussed at a meeting of the Economic Development Advisory Panel for the city.
“We are looking at building the aquarium within the next two years,” Mr. Pilecki explained. “Right now, we are focusing on raising funds. Our goal is to reach $40,000 to get a good business plan, design for the aquarium and develop the educational aspects.”
Mr. Pilecki says that the City’s Economic Development panel were discussing ways to bring more tourists into Milford in order to boost the economy of the town. Mr. Pilecki, who is from Long Island, remembered that the Long Island Aquarium became an economic benefit for the small river town where it is located and that the town was similar in size to Milford. It was also located within 18 miles of a popular beach destination.
“Councilman Garrett Grier, City Manager Richard Carmean, who was then the Economic Development Director, and myself traveled to the Long Island Aquarium,” Mr. Pilecki explained. “When we returned to Milford, Mr. Carmean commissioned a feasibility study which was presented to the Economic Development Advisory Panel in October 2011. They voted to move the project forward.”
Mr. Bailey, who teaches kindergarten at Evelyn I. Morris Early Childhood Center, is especially excited about the project. He says that the educational benefits that the project will bring to all students in Delaware are immeasurable.
“There is a clear push for the enhancement of math and science education in this country,” Mr. Bailey said. “We plan to work closely with the Delaware Science Coalition and develop programs that will allow children to get hands-on experience in not only science and math, but also to connect civics, social studies and other subjects as the aquarium grows.”
Mr. Pilecki said that once the aquarium is sustainable, they expect to have excess funding which they intend to use to create an artisan’s village that will offer demonstrations of technologies used by past generations. Mr. Pilecki said that the group hopes to build the aquarium on the Gromark property located across the street from the police station.
Mr. Bailey said that the aquarium will also allow students to make the connection between Delaware’s waterman industry and the economic benefits the state gets from those who make their living on the water. “This is not going to be a traditional field trip,” Mr. Bailey said. “As a teacher, I know that any time out of the classroom needs to be important with state standards requirements. We plan to work with the education community to develop pre- and post-lesson plans so that the students learn both before, during and after a trip to the aquarium.”
Memberships to join in supporting Milford Aquarium, Inc. are $10 for individuals 18 and over. Students under 18 may become members for $7 while family memberships are available for $25. Corporations may also become members for $100 which includes media recognition. All corporate sponsors have links placed on the Milford Aquarium website, located at www.milfordaquarium.com, that allows visitors to click through to the corporate site.
“Our mascots are two penguins, Millie and Ford,” Mr. Pilecki said. “We chose the penguins in honor of two of the birds who were confiscated when someone tried to smuggle them into New York from the Falkland Islands. They were given to the Long Island Aquarium where they became very popular, following their trainer everywhere he went in the aquarium. We decided they would be the perfect mascots and we will have a penguin exhibit in the Milford Aquarium.”