By Terry Rogers
On Wednesday, October 8, the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Milford held their Third Quarter Luncheon at Abbott’s Grill in Milford. The guest speaker at the event was Kent County Levy Court Commissioner, Eric Buckson, who spoke on issues at Levy Court that could affect Milford.
Mr. Buckson explained the Kent County Levy Court is similar to Sussex County Council in that they create laws that affect those who live in Kent County. Since Milford straddles Kent and Sussex County, the laws created by Levy Court affect Milford residents.
“We create grants, donations and funding sources for services in Milford,” Mr. Buckson said. “In fact, we just gave $40,000 to the Milford library.” Mr. Buckson explained that a large portion of Levy Court’s budget goes toward supporting the paramedics in the county.
Mr. Buckson has been a supporter of the Kent County Sports Complex, a project that is planned for land south of Frederica adjacent to the Kent County Wastewater Treatment Plant. The proposed complex consists of sports fields geared toward soccer, field hockey and lacrosse. The project is on hold because of disagreements over an overpass that was proposed in the area where the complex is set to be built.
“The overpass at the sports complex is not going to happen in my opinion,” Mr. Buckson explained. “Unfortunately, it has now become a major political battle and the overpass there has been moved down the priority list. There were some who believed that the developers for the sports complex pushed to have an overpass put there. The county owned the land and we could lease it for next to nothing, which is why the developer chose that area. However, there was always an overpass planned in that location.” According to Buckson, when the developer came to Kent County Levy Court about the project, Buckson stated that residents and users of the complex should have a reasonable expectation of crossing Route 1 safely.
Mr. Buckson explained that it was his request that led to a clause being placed in the contract with the developers that the land where the project was could not proceed without the overpass. Buckson states that “it is apparent that the overpass has become too political” and the developers are now looking at another option that would route traffic into the complex using Thompsonville Road, That intersection, between Frederica and Milford, is slated for construction of an overpass in the next year. However, he is hoping that the intersection at New Wharf Road and Route 1 in Milford will be moved higher on the DELDOT’s priority list as the intersection is “extremely dangerous.”
“I do believe the Sports Complex will be a huge economic boost to this area,” Mr. Buckson said. “The developer is predicting a $22 million a year revenue, but I think that is a homerun prediction. I think a more realistic annual revenue is around $10 million, which is still significant.”
Mr. Buckson shared that the state has implemented a $7 million revitalization program designed to allow downtown areas to be designated as Downtown Development Districts. Under the legislation, municipalities are able to apply for the designation. Applicants are reviewed by a Cabinet committee which will recommend to Governor Jack Markell which municipalities should be awarded the designation. Governor Markell will then choose at least one, but not more than three towns to receive the grant. The first three districts must include one district in each county. The towns designated will receive up to 20% of costs for exterior, interior or structural improvements. Investors must invest at least $25,000 in a project before the grants can be applied. Mr. Buckson explained that Levy Court has voted to match the grants given by the state up to $10,000 for designated areas within Kent County. Mr. Buckson confirmed that only one town in each county will receive the grants the first year and that he would like to see towns other than larger cities receiving the awards. He explained that the program will extend for several years and that there will be 15 towns awarded grants in total.