Downtown Milford, Inc. provided their annual report to Milford City Council at their regular meeting March 8. Cat Perfetti and Peggy Reilly presented a video created by the organization detailing their activities over the past year and highlighting some of the difficulties the non-profit has had due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While COVID has derailed some of our annual events, it also gave us a chance to retool others,” Perfetti said in the video. “In lieu of our annual Holiday Stroll, we were able to use the Farmer’s Market footprint to have a COVID-safe Holiday Market this past December. It was well-organized and met with great reviews. Both vendors and shoppers were happy to have a COVID-safe event to make it feel more like the holiday and we were able to support our local business who participated in sidewalk sales. We were also able to provide a COIVD-safe drive-thru Santa experience with some careful planning.”
Events such as the Pub Crawl, Bug and Bud Festival in partnership with Parks and Recreation, the Ladybug Festival as well as others that were used to raise funds for DMI were all cancelled for 2020. The Bug and Bud Festival along with the Pub Crawl was also cancelled for 2021 due to the pandemic. The organization was able to hold the Farmer’s Market by adhering to strict COVID restrictions while the Design committee was able to plant flowers as well as holiday greens in the downtown area this year. Perfetti also explained that DMI has purchased trees to plant along the Riverwalk this spring with grant money. The organization has also purchased musical playground equipment that will be installed by Parks and Recreation once the pandemic restrictions are lifted.
Until last year, DMI was provided a building by the city that they were able to use as office space. Due to deteriorating conditions of the building, council decided last year to try to sell the building which meant DMI was required to find new office space. They relocated to 10 South Walnut Street where they are now paying $880 per month rent. As a result, the organization is asking for an increase in funding from the city to offset the cost of rent for one year.
“On our request for funding, even though we normally receive $45,000, the office on Walnut Street by City Hall also acted as funding because the rent was free,” Perfetti said. “We did receive $9,000 as part of the Paycheck Protection Program which covered salaries for a few months, and I believe we have been approved for the next round, although I am not sure of the amount.” The fund request submitted to council was $54,289.80.
Councilman Dan Marabello asked about two outstanding loans that were shown on the DMI balance sheet with notations that no payments had been made. One of the businesses was no longer in business and Councilman Marabello asked how DMI planned to collect.
“We are going to have to file paperwork with the Magistrate Court,” Perfetti said. “They have made no attempt to pay and they are no longer at the address we had on file for them, so we will need to file court documents to collect those funds. The other business has brought their payments up-to-date.” Councilman Todd Culotta asked how DMI planned to collect even through the magistrate if the company was no longer in business and Perfetti explained that a personal guarantee was signed when the business took out the loan, allowing DMI to file suit against them personally as well as the business.
Council will discuss the request for additional funding during budget hearings planned for the spring.