City Council Begins Review of Capital Improvement Projects

Terry RogersGovernment & Politics, Milford Headline Story

City Hall Milford, DE

Milford City Council at a workshop prior to their meeting on April 12, began a review of capital improvement projects in the city for FY22 through FY26. Council discussed projects for electric, water, sewer, solid waste and public works. Due to the length of the workshop, council postponed discussion of projects for streets, City Hall, IT, police and Parks & Recreation until a later date.

“I want to remind council that this is a plan and that we don’t want to get too hung up on the dollar amounts at this time,” Lou Vitola, Chief Financial Officer for the city, said. “Congress is looking at bills for infrastructure and there is the America Rescue Plan Act that could provide us with additional funding. We have also heard there may be additional streams of funding for some of these projects.”

The electric department plans to replace a truck and invest in a chipper as well as a generator. Several trailers are scheduled for replacement as well.

“We are looking at some traffic signal upgrades,” Mike Svaby, Director of Public Works, said. “These are traffic signals owned by the city that could be eliminated and/or upgraded so they can turn the signal responsibility of maintenance and repair for those signals over to DelDOT. There are five of these intersections now and we have had preliminary discussions with DelDOT on what we need to do. We will need to incur some costs for this project but after that, they will be turned over to DelDOT.”

A fiber optic line is planned between city offices, including City Hall, customer service and public works. This is to add an additional line to the one currently in existence on Airport Road. Should something happen to the Airport Road fiber optic, the entire network could go down, an issue that has happened in the past. Adding another fiber optic would prevent that issue in the future. There is also a plan to replace the Shawnee Acres primary line as it was installed in 1979 and has had a lot of issues over the past few years.

The water department plans to replace several vehicles and to work on the Southeast Second Street lead line. Mayor Archie Campbell asked if there was grant money available for that project and James Puddicombe, City Engineer, explained that there was no grant funding but DelDOT had agreed to repave the road after the project and install ADA ramps so that would not be at city expense.

“In 2023, we plan to spend $36,750 for a Southeast Water Study,” Puddicombe said. “This will review the well field and look into any property purchased along with infrastructure. This is a grant funded project and we should be receiving funding for that at any time. We are also looking at Phase II of the water well at the Rookery.”

Svaby explained that there was an issue with the initial drilling of a test well due to information provided by DelDOT which allowed the contractor to drill the well in the same spot as the bore which is not normal. They have since drilled a second well and more information will be provided to council at a later date. Other water projects include upgrades to fire hydrants that are at an age it is difficult to get parts for them.

“We are having issues with how people are using the sewer system,” Svaby said. “People are putting things in the sewer system that should not be there and we are having some system issues. There is equipment we can install that will help prevent system breakdowns when someone puts clothing, a shirt, shoes, toys or something else that should not be in the sewer system. And, yes, these are things we have actually found in there. We are also working on the 4th Street surface water drainage resolution which is designed to deal with flooding in the area of 4th Street and Walnut Street.”

Public Works is also adding a vehicle and are planning an HVAC upgrade. The city plans to install a BlueDef system as well since diesel vehicles are required to use BlueDef in order to reduce pollution. Because the current system has employees adding BlueDef from gallon containers, there are sometimes delays when the mechanic is not available. The new system will be installed at the fuel pump so that employees can add the BlueDef at the same time. Buying BlueDef in bulk will also save the city about $5,000 per year as it is less expensive than purchasing the gallon containers.

“We are planning to install a rack/reel pole building to take some of the precious materials we store outside now including wire stock, transformers, things of varying but very high value that can be degraded by weather,” Svaby said. “We also want to secure them. In order to build the building, we will only be able to do the estimates, engineering and site work in FY22 because to add more impervious surface at the Vicker’s Building, we will need to do more paving and parking which means we need to add a stormwater pond.” The pole building cost in the report was $475,000 in FY22 from electric reserves. Installation of the stormwater pond and paving the Public Works parking lot is estimated to be $850,000 in FY23 while an expansion of the Public Works building in FY24 at a cost of $1.3 million.

The remaining departments in the Capital Improvement Plan will be discussed at a future workshop.

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