by Terry Rogers
Milford City Council approved a Capital Improvement Plan for FY2023 through FY2027, providing guidance for capital improvement projects over the next few years. Over several meetings, council discussed various sections of the plan, adding a few items including a broadband study and additional public bathrooms in the downtown area.
“I just want to point out that this is a plan, not a budget,” City Manager Mark Whitfield said. “There is no money attached to this. That will come at the time of the operating budget.” City Finance Director Lou Vitola pointed out that the plan was a working draft and that there were many moving parts still to manage.
The discussion began with Public Works with Mike Svaby highlighting some of the projects planned for electric, engineering, sewer, solid waste and water. The department is requesting $1,007,000 in equipment and vehicles with sewer representing $867,000 of that figure. Sanitary sewer video inspections is also included. Svaby explained that electric would need about $265,000 in FY2023 in order to build out electricity to the Fry Farm which is proposed to be an industrial park.
“Going into the water sector, we are requesting just under $2.6 million, the largest components of which include ongoing street rehab,” Svaby said. “We are seeking $250,000 in lead service line removal, $250,000 in citywide valve and hydrant replacement improvements and another $250,000 toward water infrastructure going out to the Fry Farm.” Svaby explained that other projects included upgrades to water treatment plants and planning activities related to large commercial and residential developments that are proposed.
In addition to those projects, $500,000 was included for the Southeast Regional pump station and the $225,000 for the Second Street pump station plus $330,000 for sewer infrastructure planning for the Fry Farm. Another $850,000 was requested for paving and over $4.8 million for street and parking lot upgrades. Some of these projects include streetscaping along Park Avenue, Denny’s Row and Northeast Front Street. Mayor Archie Campbell asked how much of the plan was allocated to the Fry Farm and Svaby replied it was $1.85 million in FY2023. City Planner Rob Pierce stated that, overall, the cost of the Fry Farm was anticipated at $10 million, but that was spread over several years.
“I see that there is a budget here for a public bathroom,” Councilman Dan Marabello said. “Where will that bathroom be located?”
Brad Dennehy, Director of Parks and Recreation stated that the location of a public bathroom would be located in Memorial Park. Councilman Marabello asked if there was anything planned near the Farmer’s Market and Dennehy stated that the landscape architect proposed placing it near the current pump station.
“Just for the location of the utilities and available of open space,” James Puddicombe, City Engineer, said. “As you get closer to the area between Washington and Walnut, you have the mini-amphitheater, trees and several other items which would conflict with the placement of a bathroom, so going to just the east side, there of Washington is the most convenient and cheapest. But, it isn’t just the question of money as you would also have to kind of destroy some of your park area that’s existing, so it makes more sense to put in more open area.”
Councilman Andy Fulton pointed out that the library opens their downstairs bathroom during the Farmer’s Market. Puddicombe also explained that the plan included upgrades to the parking lot at City Hall to make it more of a one-way loop.
“The other project under City Hall,” Whitfield said. “I’m recommending that we take a look at the front of this building and the possibility of creating a public plaza area. Some of the vegetation is somewhat overgrown. There’s a question of a need for a circular driveway and whether or not it may be a better use of space to actually put in public space that could be a public gathering space or other type. If you look at other city halls, such as Seaford and Dover, they have a really nice front entrance. This is a beautiful building and I think we might have to take a look at what might be done in the front of the building.”
Under Parks and Recreation, Dennehy explained that the department needed little in the way of equipment but that the maintenance shop located behind the Armory could use some improvements.
“The lion’s share of our budget, obviously, in our capital projects in terms of advancing our parkland,” Dennehy said. “We’ve got existing stuff that will need to be be maintained, including the Tony Silicato Park and with the purchase of the Sharp property, we need to seek and hold onto a vision about what we are purchasing for their whole. Deep Branch, Herring Branch, the Greenway south of town. We certainly don’t want to be purchasing lots of open land and not doing anything with it.”
Councilman Marabello pointed out that the plan included $500,000 for land acquisition each year, asking if that was to purchase additional parkland.
“The Rule 101 of Parks and Recreation is land acquisition,” Dennehy said. “I’m hoping we can keep that going forward. I really do. I think there’s a proven need for more recreational opportunities. I think the public, our citizens, want it. And I think if we are serious about economic development, we need to as well.”
Councilman Marabello asked if there were low rates or short-term loans that would allow the city to purchase land and Whitfield reminded him that this was simply a plan. When the fiscal year budget was determined for each year, funding would be discussed at that time. When the plan was presented at the regular council meeting, Chief Kenneth Brown pointed out that he had requested that it include two cars with high mileage be included, but they were not. Vitola stated that he had missed the request but that as the budget hearings were held, council could discuss how to include those two cars.
Council approved the plan unanimously, including an additional cost to investigate the possibility of installation of public broadband access throughout the town as well as a second downtown bathroom. The plan will be incorporated into the budgeting process with hearings on the FY22-23 budget starting May 16.
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