Milford city government is preparing to undertake several capital improvement projects in the coming months.
Some are needed to handle the explosive growth the city has experienced in the last 15 years.
But most, according to City Manager Richard Carmean, are needed to simply to replace Milford’s aging infrastructure.
The following is a sampling of municipal projects on the not-to-distant horizon:
1 Wickersham Water Tower
COST $5 million
COMPLETION TARGETED Summer, 2014
Earlier this year, the developers of the long proposed, 200-home Wickersham townhouse development project between Cedar Creek Road and Coastal Highway, agreed to donate 3 of their 43 acre property to the town for a municipal well, a water treatment plant and the future construction of a 750,000-gallon water tower.
“We’ve had explosive growth on the southeastern side of town in recent years with new neighborhoods like Hearthstone Manor, Orchard Hill and the Meadows at Shawnee, Carmean said. “Right now, all the water that goes to those neighborhoods is treated and stored downtown, which has a big impact on the water pressure over there.”
The addition of a new water supply and storage tower – the town’s fourth – would provide valuable redundancy in the municipal water supply, Carmen said.
The addition of the well and treatment plant also could help kick start the development, which would need municipal well and sewer service.
Test wells on the property have indicated the water supply from the Wickersham would meet the city’s needs. Work has already begun on portions of the water main, while a contract for construction of the tower is expected to be awarded by the end of the year.
2 Washington Street Water Treatment Plant/Sewer Pumping Station
COST $4 million
COMPLETION TARGETED late 2014
The city’s water treatment plant and sewer pumping station off Washington Street, both just south of the Mispillion River, are in need of major upgrades.
The sewer pumping station upgrade was approved by voters as a part of a 2008 bond referendum. The state also approved a $4 million, low-interest loan for the water treatment plant project last year.
The water treatment plant is more than 60 years old while the sewer pumping station dates back more than 35 years. Both have reached the end of their useful life and require costly repairs to maintain.
As part of the water treatment plant replacement, the city also plans to demolish the existing building a 5 S. Washington Street to construct a new administration and billing office for the Milford Water and Wastewater Departments. The Greater Milford Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Milford Inc. vacated the city-owned building in September.
Page 2 of 4 - THE PROGRESS
Both projects were awaiting the completion of the Washington Street Bridge replacement project, which wrapped up December.
On Monday, City Council awarded a $762,400 contract to Bearing Construction of Sudlersville, Md., to complete the sewer pump station upgrades. Contracts for the demolition of 5 S. Washington St. and the existing water treatment plant are expected to be awarded in the coming months, however those steps have been delayed by the recent discovery of a 100-year-old dump site on the property.
City officials are currently trying to determine how much it would cost to remove about 8 feet of soil and whether that added expense will make plans for a new Water and Wastewater office cost-prohibitive. Carmean said he is investigating whether to relocate the administration and billing offices to the current PNC Bank on South Walnut St. after the branch is closed in April.
3 New Milford Police Station
COST $9 million
COMPLETION TARGETED 2016
The Milford Police Department headquarters in the Richard Carmean Building on Northeast Front Street was built in 1979 with capacity for 24 officers. The department currently employs more than 30 sworn officers and civilian personnel.
Milford Police Chief Keith Hudson says the facility is overcrowded and lacking storage space – problems that will only worsen as the town continues to grow and the demand for additional officers increases.
The city has identified a nearly 16-acre parcel at the corner of Northeast Front and Fourth streets, just a few hundred yards away from the existing police headquarters, where they would like to build a new facility.
In December, City Council submitted a proposed purchase agreement to the property’s current owners, Growmark FS, that would allow Milford to put down a $50,000 deposit in exchange for a three-year hold on the land, during which the city would have the option to buy the property at a fix cost of $875,000.
During that time, City Council would seek grant funding and voter approval of a bond referendum to raise the $8 million needed to construct a new police headquarters.
The city is currently waiting to see whether Growmark will approve the proposed purchase agreement as offered.
4 Multiple road resurfacing and streetscape projects
COMPLETION TARGETED Unknown
Several roadway improvement projects that have been holding spots on the city’s wish list soon could be moving toward fruition, Carmean said.
On Northeast Front Street, the city would like to undertake a large-scale streetscape that would include the burying of utility lines.
Page 3 of 4 - Airport Road is in need of resurfacing and the addition of new turn lanes to accommodate heavy truck traffic and the impending completion of Cascades, a 76-unit townhouse and garden apartment neighborhood currently under construction.
Plans for a milling and overlay project on Southeast Front Street were shelved last year when the city opted to investigate the addition of stormwater, water and sewer infrastructure upgrades along the same stretch of road.
Carmean said work on Southeast Front Street is slated to begin this summer at an estimated cost of $1.5 million.
Limited improvements on Airport Road will follow in the near future, although some of the larger-scale improvements have not yet been budgeted.
The Northeast Front Street Streetscape is not in the town’s immediate timetable, although it could be moved up City Council opts to allocate the funding.
Milford city government isn’t the only entity preparing to take on major capital improvement projects.
The following are some of recently completed and future non-city-funded projects:
1 Milford Memorial Hospital Expansion
COST $200 million
COMPLETION TARGETED 2017
Bayhealth is planning to build a new, 300,000-square-foot hospital to replace the existing 75-year-old Milford Memorial Hospital on West Clarke Avenue.
The new full-service hospital is expected to include state-of-the art inpatient and ambulatory care capabilities, as well as units including emergency services, intensive care, surgical, diagnostic and imaging, inpatient dialysis, OB/GYN and inpatient rehabilitation.
Last August, Bayhealth chose Philadelphia-based EwingCole to design the new facility. Those drawings are expected to be unveiled early next year.
No start date for the project has been announced.
2 Milford Solar Farm
COST $50 million
COMPLETION TARGETED Finished in late December
Delaware’s largest solar field came online off of Milford Harrington Highway just before Jan. 1
Owned by PSEG Solar Source, a subsidiary of the New Jersey-based Public Service Enterprise Group, the field’s 62,000 solar panels produce 12-megawatts of AC power distributed into the Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation’s power grid for use by the power company’s customers in nine cities and towns, including Milford.
The 80-acre solar field is currently feeding directly into a pair of city-owned transformers that eventually will be replaced by a new, $8,500,000 substation currently under construction.
Page 4 of 4 - Milford officials say PSEG is expected to donate about $300,000 worth of solar panels to the city for use at various municipal government buildings.
3 Milford Middle School
COMPLETION TARGETED Unknown
The Milford School District has determined that Milford Middle School’s deteriorating condition and expense of repairing the facility is too great to keep the 84-year-old building open beyond the current school year.
The district will move students in grades 6 through 8 to the Milford Central Academy and the ninth grade into the adjacent Milford High School, starting in the fall.
No decision has been made about the future of the Middle School building.
District officials have said they are looking to partner with a community organization that might be willing to take over the building.
However, the demolition of all or a portion of the building have not been ruled out entirely.
School board president Patrick Emory said he expects the district to make a final decision by the end of the school year.