Local non-profits benefit from Community Reinvestment Fund

Terry RogersCulture, Headlines, Milford Headline Story

Milford Public Library is one of the organizations receiving Community Reinvestment funds for 2025

Several Milford area non-profits will benefit from the 2025 Community Investment Fund program which is included as part of the state’s annual budget. This year, seven organizations were granted over $1.7 million in funding.

“We are pumped!” Lea Rosell, Director of the Milford Public Library, a recipient of over $382,000, said. “These funds are important because other than going for state bond bill money, which requires a 50 percent match, there are few opportunities for refurbishment projects. For other capital projects, the shiny ones, new buildings, additions, etc., there are ample private or non-profit foundations where one can apply and a few “no match” governmental agencies, too.”

Rosell explained that the original request was for $425,500 which would be used for new bathrooms, repair serious piping and drainage issues that are having a devastating effect on the children’s wing and replacement of all exterior doors plus interior locking mechanisms. The library will also use the funding to replace wayfinding signage, move the Teen Center downstairs and property outfit the space, lower the main collection stacks, update the décor and technology in the Smith Meeting Room plus add a dedicated kitchen space to that meeting room.

a close up of a street in front of a brick building

Milford Museum will benefit from a $50,000 grant from the Community Reinvestment Fund

“I think this funding is it’s critical because we want to accommodate the needs of everybody that comes in the museum whether it’s the museum where it is now, or at the former police station where we’re looking. One of the ways to do that is to get restroom facilities that can accommodate people that have disabilities, and that’s really a challenge for anybody that’s in a public space, because there are things that have to be done, and those things take money in order to build the facilities that can make these restrooms accessible to everyone,” Tom Summers, Executive Director of the Milford Museum, who received a $50,000 grant, said. “One of the things, and this personal story, but when I was with state parks, we would go to different parks, and one of the trainings we had, is you had to get into a wheelchair and try to get in and out of the bathroom, which I had never done any training like that before. But it really gave you a sense of what somebody in a wheelchair has to deal with in terms of getting into and out of a restroom, even if it is ADA accessible. So that really taught me that those are things you have to look out for. And the money that comes from this fund will be able to have constructed, the restrooms, which will be needed to for the accessibility for folks that have disabilities.”

Milford Museum received a grant of $250,000 in 2024 as well as $300,000 in a previous year for an addition on their current building. The museum is in talks with the city to move into the former police station and Summers stated that the legislators had already approved reallocating that funding for upgrades at the new location once the move is finalized.

Abbott’s Mill is also a beneficiary of the Community Reinvestment prgoram

“Because we are a non-profit organization, these funds are extremely important to us because we do not have room in our annual budget for such items all at one time,” Michael Valenti, Outreach and Site Director for Abbott’s Mill Nature Center, who were awarded $95,000, said. “And because I have been dealing with a large number of upgrade/improvement projects here at Abbott’s Mill Nature Center, these funds over the last few years have allowed me to get caught up on necessary repairs, mainly from a safety point of view for our visitors.”

Valenti explained that DNS plans to use the funding for garage repairs, including four bay doors, new siding, new roof and improved interior lighting. In addition, improvements will be made to outdoor classrooms and visitor seating plus there will be security improvements to the Blairs Pond and Lee Tracts. An area of the Visitor and Education Center not addressed by previously requests, such as replacement of the tile flooring in the wet lab and hallway. In 2024, Abbott’s Mill received $190,000 designed for repairs to the historic mill as well as master planning for the mill property. In 2023, the organization received $266,500 for safety and energy updates at the mill.

Community Reinvestment Funds will allow the Milford Historical Society to make significant upgrades to the Parson Thorne Mansion

“This grant funding will allow us to make significant improvements at the Parson Thorne Mansion,” Ralph Prettyman, President of the Milford Historical Society, who was awarded $300,000, said. “We plan to install a fire alarm system, reroof the main house and restore a servant’s quarters on the property. We will do some interior painting, add copper gutter and downspouts, stabilize floors and mitigate moisture. Some of the funds will be used for collections management and technology. However, the largest portion of the funds will go toward the construction of a new, barn-style visitor center on the property. We are very excited for that project to get underway.”

Prettyman explained that in 2024 the historical society received $75,000 and used that funding for significant repairs to the mansion, including roofing, painting and restoration projects.

Other grants issued to Milford area non-profits include $275,000 to Milford Little League for improvements to the complex and the Milford Senior Center for upgrades to the kitchen in the amount of $40,000. The Boys and Girls Club of Delaware also received $600,000 for HVAC repair and replacement for their Milford location.

The CRF program is used for community redevelopment, revitalization and investment capital projects designed to improve the economic, culture, historical and recreational health of Delaware communities. Applicants must be a 501(c)3 organization while state agencies, schools, childcare facilities, churches and fire companies are not eligible. Funds can be used for preconstruction or construction costs, restoration, acquisition of land or equipment, construction of sidewalks and other types of infrastructure. The total amount awarded for the 2025 CRF program was $90 million.

 

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