On Thursday, April 2, the City of Milford Customer Service Department will be closing at 3pm and will remain closed until 8am on Monday, April 6 at their new location in the former PNC Bank building, located at 119 South Walnut Street in downtown Milford. The building has undergone extensive renovations since the city purchased it in 2013.
“To give some background, when the City renovated City Hall a number of years ago, it was decided we would move the billing department out,” said former City Manager, Richard Carmean. “There was little seating space and we had a large assembly room at the Public Works building out on Airport Road that we decided to convert to a billing office. We basically built a counter and added some desks, but it was not an ideal situation. The employees were crowded, the lighting was low and there still wasn’t room for customers.” Mr. Carmean explained that the City planned on the billing office moving to a brand new building that was planned next to the new water treatment plant that was to be built on the site of an existing plant on South Washington Street.
The City tore down the former police station, which, at the time housed the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford and Downtown Milford, Inc., planning to build a new billing office on that location. However, Mr. Carmean said that soil borings found that the city would have to remove several feet of dirt and replace it with soil more suitable for building in order to bring the billing office downtown.
“It was around the time we learned this that I heard about PNC’s plans to close their downtown branch,” Mr. Carmean said. “I contacted PNC in Pittsburgh to get information about what would be included in the sale and learned that the building, the parking lot between the bank and the Milford Museum, as well as another large parking lot behind the building, next to the flower shop, were included in the cost.” Mr. Carmean said that the fact that the building already had an existing drive-thru window was another benefit to the building.
Mr. Carmean suggested to City Council that they look into purchasing the bank and converting it to the billing department and the sale was completed in June 2014. In January 2015, City Council voted to change the name of the billing department to the Customer Service Department to better represent the duties of employees in that office.
“Everyone I talked to said that they wanted the billing office back downtown,” Mr. Carmean said. “I know that in talking to downtown businesses, they are thrilled that the bank will become the billing office because they know it will increase foot traffic downtown. People will go get a cup of coffee, grab lunch or visit the stores downtown.” Mr. Carmean said that the move would not only benefit downtown businesses, but it also benefitted the City tremendously.
According to the former City Manager, the cost for a new building would have been almost $2 million. He also explained that the lot where the building would be built was very small and, although they were able to add a drive-thru window in the plans, it was a very tight space for people to maneuver vehicles. The cost to purchase and renovate the PNC Bank building was considerably lower. In addition, because extra land came with the bank, the City was able to relocate the new water treatment plant so that it will be next to the current water tower.
“It worked out wonderfully in many ways,” Mr. Carmean said. “It saved a historic building in Milford, saved the City a considerable amount of money and allowed us to move the water treatment facility away from the river in order to open that entire parcel of land up for other uses.”
Milford Trust Company was funded by Dr. Layton Grier and his brother, Dr. Frank Grier, to provide banking services for the newly arrived L.D. Caulk Company in 1900. After 29 years, the original building was replaced with the structure that still stands today. The first president of Milford Trust Company was Alfred Powell. Colonel George H. Hall was president until 1930 and Louder Hearn until the post-war period. George T. Reed was a cashier at the bank from 1940 until the bank was sold to PNC in the 1980s. PNC decided to close the branch in order to consolidate services at their North Dupont Highway location.
The new Customer Service Department will have lobby and drive-thru hours from 8 AM until 4:30 PM Monday through Friday. Customers who need to set up a new utility account or are in need of discussing their account will need to come inside the lobby to talk to a Customer Service Representative. The phone number, 302-422-6616, will remain the same.