by Terry Rogers
Milford’s Ward 1 will head to the polls to vote for one of their representatives on City Council. Michael Boyle and Linda Bretzer both filed to run for the seat. Mayor Archie Campbell as well as Councilmen Andrew Fulton and Brian Baer along with Councilwoman Katrina Wilson also filed but will run unopposed for their ward seats.
All individuals registered to vote with the State of Delaware by March 24, 2022 at an address within Ward 1 of the City of Milford are eligible to vote in the election. Residents who need to register should contact the Department of Elections in Sussex County at 302-856-5367 or visit https://ivote.de.gov. Qualified non-resident property owners must be properly registered by the City of Milford by March 24, 2022. To learn if you are a qualified non-resident voter, contact the City Clerk’s Office at 302-422-1111, Extension 1300 or 1303 where they may also register by phone.
Bretzer and Boyle were both provided the following questions and answers that follow are in Boyle’s words in order to offer voters more details on their platform, what they hope to do on council and what issues they see as important in the city.
Q: Can you give me your background? Education, career, family, etc.
- Milford City Council since 2018
- Served for 3 ½ years on Milford Planning and Zoning Commission
- Department of Defense, Contractor Policy Analyst for 17 years
- Retired, U.S Army after 28+ years of total service
- Lieutenant Colonel Retired: U.S. Army with 28 + years of service
- Graduate of U.S. Army Command and General Staff College
- Graduate of LaSalle University
- Meadows At Shawnee HOA Board of Directors
- Served on the Milford Middle School Committee
Q: What made you decide to run for council?
A: As a member of the City Council my primary concern has always been for the people who live and work in Milford today, and in the future. I am always been available to meet with, learn from, understand and address the concerns of residents. This type of connection that local government has with its residents, strengthens the community’s bond with its elected officials and is a practice I will continue following if elected to another term on Council.
My background has instilled in me the temperament and understanding of what it takes to achieve results. I believe I am the best qualified candidate fully committed to addressing the challenges confronting Milford and working for the best interests of all our residents as our City continues to grow.
But the main reason I am running for re-election is my strong personal commitment to Milford; it is my home. I want to see Milford thrive while maintaining its small town feel and charm, sustain a solid jobs base, provide good affordable housing, continue to provide first class policing for a safe diverse community, and a good school system essential to Milford’s future. I am running to realize these goals for Milford.
I have posted a short YouTube video Mike Boyle – Milford City Council Election 2022 stating my reasons for seeking re-election and my vision for Milford’s future. It can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/0iaeJ6REqFQ.
Q: What are the biggest issues facing Milford today and how do you plan to address them going forward?
A: The City’s biggest issue is to bring new jobs to Milford that provide good salaries. To this end, it is essential that Milford attracts companies large enough to provide residents, particularly our younger residents, with opportunities offering financial growth, stability and personal satisfaction. For this reason, Milford’s recently purchased the 180+ acre Fry Farm property for the construction of an industrial park to attract new manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, and service industry jobs.
In May 2021 Milford created a full time Economic Development and Community Engagement Administrator to actively promote Milford to the corporate world which is already begun attracting interest from many regional and national corporations.
Q: Milford is growing rapidly. In what ways do you plan to manage that growth?
A: Milford continues to experience significant growth now nearing 12,000 residents. With this come many challenges the City must address to meet increasing demands to provide those services necessary to support a rapidly growing community. Implementing and maintaining plans and programs to help manage growth while also sustaining an environment that supports economic development of existing businesses and actively engaging with industry to bring new companies with good paying long term job opportunities is key.
My time with the Planning Commission has provided me with the insight to evaluate how any project, or development will complement the City’s existing configuration and not detract from the City’s esthetic.
Q: Infrastructure in Milford seems to be of concern to citizens. How are you planning to deal with the infrastructure to deal with growth?
A: Milford is meeting the demand for current and future expanded infrastructure services.
Infrastructure expansion and updating is a constant activity for the city’s Public Works and Planning Departments, and the Information Technology Office as they prepare to meet the steadily increasing demands for infrastructure support to meet this continuing growth. Milford is continually developing, maintaining and coordinating plans that: establish schedules to repair streets and roads; maintains replacement schedules for sewer, electric, replacement of old lead water lines, established a sidewalk maintenance plan to make the City a safe and walkable community; a schedule to replace and improve street lighting and to expand telecommunication capabilities. Anticipating the need for expanded services, the city pre installs service lines for water, sewer and conduits for electric services in areas where future development is planned as roads are repaired or constructed to avoid having to go back and tear them up some time in the future.
We are also developing strategies capable of providing cyber security and emerging technologies capable of supporting increasing data management needs with greater capacity, to serve a range of requirements. And Milford is looking into providing some electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at select locations.
Milford has also engaged with DelDOT conducting a Southeast Transportation Improvement District (TID) study to better identify the transportation improvements to support future growth impacts in a geographically defined area for the purpose of securing essential improvements to facilities in that area.
The intent of the TID is to point where DelDOT can start developing concepts and needs estimates for the purpose of securing required improvements to transportation facilities in the study area to meet the service standards in 2045. Identified improvement needs within the TID receive prioritization on DelDOTs six-year Capital Improvement Plan.
Forecasting traffic on the roads, based on the future land use plan, permits the identification of key locations that need improvements putting future traffic management ahead of the curve and not playing “catch up.” This is a study I strongly support.
Q: Narrowing this down a little, what are the biggest issues facing Ward One specifically and what plans do you have to address them?
A: With the large amount of available land in South East Milford, Ward 1, it is anticipated that there will be continued growth in housing, commercial and retail development, and health care services with strong employment potential to benefit residents in Ward 1.
There are three residential developments and possibly a commercial one that I am aware of right now in some phase of planning to be built in Ward 1. Choosing someone with the knowledge and understanding of the City’s approval processes is important to safeguard that any planned project conforms to all pertinent city codes to better ensure suitable assimilation with existing neighborhoods and surrounding areas is important to the residents of ward 1.
My experience with the Planning Commission and City Council positions me best to serve the residents of Ward 1 to realize this goal.
Q: The sidewalk project was recently reviewed by council. There are many property owners who feel they should not be responsible for repair and maintenance of their sidewalk. Do you feel this ordinance should be changed in any way? Explain why or why not.
A: I feel that the ordinance makes sense. With home ownership is an inherent responsibility to maintain property to preserve value, ensure safety and improve neighborhood appearances. This extends to the building’s exterior including the sidewalk as well.
Milford’s Code, Section 197-4, states that: In all instances, property owners shall be responsible for maintaining, repairing, or replacing sidewalks and for keeping sidewalks in good repair, in safe condition.
When developing the current sidewalk maintenance program, Milford understood that there would be instances, where sidewalks requiring repair or replacement, that property owners would need some help. The City has implemented a program offering home owners financing options to help mitigate financial stress some may encounter. For further information on these options, residents are encouraged to contact Milford’s Customer Service at (302) 422-6616.
Q: How do you view the current local economy and how do you propose preserving and attracting quality jobs into Milford, especially those designed for young people?
A: The past two years have placed an extreme burden on local small businesses, especially in the restaurant and entertainment sectors. Overall, and despite dealing with masking and Covid related closings, the local economy has managed to come through fairly well. It is recovering and returning to regular, if different, operating models.
Milford’s next priority is to expand its employment base using incentives to attract companies large enough to provide residents, particularly our younger residents, with opportunities offering financial growth, job stability and personal satisfaction. As mentioned above, moving aggressively to reach this goal, Milford’s initiative to construct an industrial park will enhance our appeal to attract manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, and service industry jobs. And we are already receiving inquiries form regional and national corporations.
Q: Do you believe the current recreational needs of local families, especially those with teens, are being met? Explain why or why not and how you plan to address the situation.
A: I believe recreational options for families at the present time, are good but could be better. A fuller range of available recreational options is currently constrained by a park system that is inadequate for our needs. The City Council and City management recognize this as an area requiring much attention and, has begun addressing this. The recently purchased Sharpe property, near Marshall Pond, is an initial step toward developing a system of parks that could provide residents with much needed open space for family recreation, sports playing fields, courts, rinks, as well as non-sport recreational programs. The City has begun the implementation process of its Master Bicycle Plan to establish a network of walking and biking trails to connect other parts of town to downtown. This plan will take time but demonstration projects have been conducted and the lessons learned are being applied to the plan.
The City’s Parks and Recreation Department does offer a variety of sports programs for all ages, like tennis, flag football, basketball, soccer and field hockey, but there are other organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, the Milford Little League that also offer sports programs.
Q: Affordable housing is a problem in the area, especially rental units. How can council address that problem?
A: Housing prices are market driven whether they are new or re-sale units and there is little the City can do to influence prices. There are however, some lower cost rental options in Milford. An existing complex is planning to resume building out its remaining units. City Council is conducting preliminary exploratory feasibility reviews to permit smaller units as a further housing option. The City does coordinate with non-profit agencies like the Milford Housing Development Corporation whose missions are provide to high quality rental opportunities for families and seniors.
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