by Terry Rogers
In May 2018, James Burk, Councilman for Ward 2, resigned from his position on Milford City Council due to work requirements. A Special Election will be held on August 23 from 7 AM until 7 PM. F. Todd Culotta and Andrew P. Fulton have filed to run for the open seat. It is important to note that those wishing to vote in the Special Election must be properly registered to vote with the City of Milford by registering at Town Hall. Registration to vote in State and National Elections does not register residents to vote in City elections. Residents and property owners in Ward II must be registered with the City by 4:30 PM on Tuesday, July 24, 2018, in order to be eligible to vote in the Special Election.
Andy Fulton provided the following answers to questions in order to provide voters with more information about his stance on City issues.
Q: How do you think the recent budget passed by the state will affect the City of Milford budget? What areas do you feel could be affected and what ideas do you have to resolve these concerns?
A: Well, to begin this multi-part question, let me say thank you for allowing enough time to have reviewed the Grants-In-Aid package that was passed by the State which much of my answer hinged upon. To the first part concerning the state budget and its effects on the City of Milford, the economy improvements that have taken place across the country have helped increase the revenue the state has to allocate. The increase from the state to Milford will assist KSI, Senior Center, a 25% increase to the funding of Carlisle Fire Department, smaller changes but very important roadway improvement projects in and around Milford, Downtown Development, and the Milford Housing Development. The State budget also saw an increase to the School Districts as well.
We as a city need to work on Grants In Aid packages for our Museum as well as capital improvement funding projects to enable some of the capital funds spent north of us to come to our fair locality. For example, beautification projects in New Castle funded via capital funds could also be funded for our community.
Q: Milford is expected to experience growth over the next several years. What do you believe that growth should look like and what role should the city play?
A: Growth is something that must be nurtured and controlled in order to keep it from becoming a nuisance of overcrowding and traffic delays coupled with school overcrowding. The future of Milford with the new hospital and Nationwide appropriation of the old Bayhealth facilities are a shining jewel in the prospective growth. The city needs to ensure that the property code enforcement is complied with in order to ensure property values are maintained so that the resale of homes can continue and empty abandoned and/or foreclosed homes are avoided. The comprehensive plan should be followed to enable a well thought out and respectful growth pattern. This will enable the city to continue with sidewalk plans, bike path plans, water and sewer needs as well as the electrical needs of the community.
Q: The City has developed a Downtown Master Plan and been selected as a Downtown Development District by the State of Delaware. How do you view downtown and its role in the future of Milford?
A: The Downtown Master Plan was developed and has state funds associated with its implementation. Talking with one of our long term residents, the 1946 downtown area was described as one of entertainment and socialization as well as shopping. I would hope the future of the downtown area is one that will provide affordable places to live, recreational services to all age groups, businesses that can cater to a variety of ages. I would also like to say that this area is actually 170 acres of land in our central business district. I hope to have this area once again be the heartbeat of our community so that future generations can enjoy the fond memories of our city as described to me while meeting with Ward 2 residents.
Q: How do you view the current local economy and how would you propose preserving and attracting quality jobs?
A: The current economy is improving but the need for jobs with adequate pay to support families is forever increasing. The new facilities will aid in this, but that cannot be a stopping point. I see a growth in service businesses to support the larger growth businesses. I am hopeful for the start-up of small businesses that are occurring within our community as the opportunity for success continues to grow. In order to preserve the jobs and to continue to attract families, we as a community will need to maintain and improve property values, provide recreational activities to all age groups, have service industries to provide dining and after hours activities. In order to preserve the quality of the jobs our workforce must also be given training opportunities, which is why I hope that we, as a city, can attract adult education within our city limits.
Q: Do you believe current recreation needs of local families are being met and how can they be improved?
A: Presently the Senior Center and local church activities provide wonderful senior programs, the Library and recreational facilities provide wonderful preschool environments. The problem truly lies with recreational activities for the school age children 6th through the 12th grade. Opportunities do exist on a limited scale but all have limitations such as a vehicle is needed to go to the Boys and Girls Club as no sidewalks or crossing areas exist in the locality. Organized dance, football, baseball and other sporting type events are available, but not all children are interested in these activities. I believe the Parks and Recreation Committee needs to formulate a working group with the Milford Academy and Milford Senior High School class leadership to start the planning process to attract, through incentives or partnerships, the recreational activities this group of children need and want. This will also help attract new families and retain the families we already have living here.
Q: How available is quality and affordable housing in Milford? Is there a need for more affordable housing?
A: Affordable housing is available but not all of it is desirable. The code enforcement of rental properties is just as important as owner occupied. Everyone deserves a place to live that is affordable to our means and meets the needs of the community. One of the requirements of the Downtown District Plan funded by the state is to help build a stable community of long term residents by improving housing opportunities for all.
Q: Code enforcement is a problem in many cities today. Milford has developed a new process to address code enforcement. How would you like to see code enforcement in the City improved and what areas do you see as needing better enforcement?
A: The City has recently provided the funding for hiring another code enforcement officer. I believe that reports to the city should be looked into to include feedback to the citizens that made the initial report as well as a randomized review of our housing within city limits. Owner and renter occupied should be kept to the same standards.
Q: How do you see Bayhealth’s new campus and the purchase of the Clarke Avenue campus by Nationwide affecting Milford over the next five years?
A: I believe that Nationwide’s purchase of the old Bayhealth campus will provide a needed and growing service to our community by caring for those that require limited or more advanced care. This will provide jobs for the area as well as, based on current discussions, opportunity for education for adults interested in the healthcare services. The new Bayhealth Campus could be the Medical Campus of choice below the C&D Canal. A new state of the art facility coupled with other services will make this area one of long term growth and prosperity.
Q: The Mispillion River is a valuable asset to the City. What ways do you think the City can promote the river as an attraction, improve growth along the river but continue to promote conservation and protection of natural habitats along the river?
A: The Comprehensive Plan recognized the need for controlled and limited growth along the Mispillion River so as to maintain its natural habitat and beauty. The City currently promotes the River both historically for Milford and as a safe environment with the festivals and shows that crisscross the river as well as providing areas for dining.
Q: Recently, City Council voted to hire five new police officers using funds from water reserves rather than raising taxes. This will fund the officers for the next three years, but there was not a plan for how to fund them past the three year mark. What is your opinion on this action? Do you feel it is important that the police force be expanded to this extent? What would your choice have been had you already been elected to council?
A: The need for increased Public Safety presence by Police Officers was needed to assure our safety as well as to provide law enforcement with the resources needed to maintain our community. If I was a member of Council, I would have voted yes to this motion. I would have, however, followed up with a motion to change our City Charter to receive funds from tourism to help support our public safety the same way that other communities do, thus providing a future plan to continue paying for these resources without reducing our water reserve funds in the future. It would be my hope that the positive changes coming to Milford could increase our residents thus improving our tax base so that we can achieve even more while still paying our current rates.
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