Vineyard Shipyard Receives USDA Grant


by Terry Rogers


Recently, the Vinyard Shipyard Task Force announced they had received a grant for $12,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture. The group applied for the grant at the suggestion of a member of the task force although many members were familiar with USDA grants from previous projects.

“This grant will be used to create a vision and marketing package which will allow the group to develop a business plan and strategic marketing tools to further out goals of securing the Shipyard for public use and development,” SaraKate Hammer said. “We hope to create a 3D digital image package that will allow users to go online and “see” the Shipyard and the Riverwalk in this new invention of its use and to bring the community together around the project.”

The Vinyard Shipyard Taskforce is a group of volunteers who are working to secure the shipyard for preservation, protection and public use. Working with various private and public partners including local, county and state officials, the task force is working to bring engaged stakeholders together to make this maritime treasure an anchor for economic, recreational and cultural development in historic Downtown Milford.

Dan Bond, who has renovated several historic properties in downtown Milford, and Sher Valenzuela, co-owner of First State Manufacturing, co-chair the organization. Both Bond and Valenzuela spearheaded the initiative in 2018. The Task Force is working with Architectural Alliance on the final stages of a feasibility study to determine the best use for the facility as it moves from private to public.

“We want to ensure that the restoration and preservation of the shipyard and Mulholland Spoon Mill continue, while also continuing to raise funds to take the Riverwalk to the next level,” Hammer said. “In addition, we hope to work with the City to finish the Mispillion Riverwalk to create a continuous loop for people to enjoy.”

Hammer explained that Architectural Alliance has completed the initial phase of their work, examining the facilities at both the shipyard and the spoon mill. The company did an initial assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of both locations that would support public activities. The company is now working on the second phase of the project based on requests of the Task Force. These will result in a plan for the future use of the shipyard and surrounding areas of potential development. Architectural Alliance will also provide a projected budget for the operation of the shipyard and supporting activities, examine possible sources of funding and consider various alternatives for the future management of the shipyard.

“We have requested that the first draft of their results be available in early November,” Hammer said. “We hope to have their final report and supporting presentation materials ready in December to share with everyone. We are currently looking for supporters as we move into the community building phase of the project and we are accepting donations as well. We hope to make downtown Milford a destination for locals and visitors in Central Delaware and beyond.”

Hammer explained that the campus along with the spoon factory and the Riverwalk extension will be an amazing catalyst for economic development and jobs in Milford. She and the rest of the Task Force believe that this is an exciting project and they want everyone to be part of the cultivation of this jewel in their hometown.

Donations can be sent to DMI at 207 South Walnut Street, Milford DE 19963, ATTN: Vinyard Shipyard. DMI is a non-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible. Anyone who wants to volunteer for the project can email To receive updates about the project, individuals can sign up at

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