Uniqueness. Identity. Sense of place. Well-balanced community. These are just some of the words that stand out in the Town of Smyrna's proposed Economic Development plan.
Town of Smyrna officials and Economic Development Committee members have been working on the plan since May of last year. While the proposal is still in draft form, the plan is something that will go to Smyrna Town Council for approval in the near future.
So what's the point of the plan? To provide a framework for controlled growth for the town in the future, said Town Manager Dave Hugg.
"We want to grow and have this be a prosperous place to live, work and participate in recreational activities. The important point is that the town doesn't get lost in this growth," Hugg said. "We don't want to look like everybody else. We need to use our resources but still be able to show our history, culture, education and the other areas that contribute to what Smyrna is."
The plan features three distinct, but interconnected, areas to hone in on – the town overall, the U.S. Route 13 Corridor, and Downtown Smyrna. Within each of these areas is a specific list of initiatives that will enable the town to grow smartly.
Growing the town as a whole
The objectives for growing the town overall are as follows: keeping the uniqueness and identity of the town, maintaining data and understanding demographics, capturing the value of Route 1, making Smyrna a well-balanced community, supporting a broad mix of businesses and jobs, leading the effort to create well planned development, attracting businesses that are the right fit, and providing first class public services and utilities.
Within each of these objectives are initiatives that will enable town staff to implement the objectives. Some initiatives are already set in place while others are a work in progress.
Blending Route 13 with the town
For the last few years the Town of Smyrna has worked on a U.S. Route 13 Corridor Plan with DelDOT and other state agencies. The goal was to see how the town could incorporate Route 13 into the town. The objectives for this portion of the plan include developing a sense of place, ensuring mobility and safety on the road, improving upon the urban design of the road, and promoting economic viability.
To achieve these objectives the town will develop marketing and branding initiatives, complete and implement mobility plans, adopt and implement form-based zoning and design guidelines, and work with developers to incorporate good design concepts.
Building up downtown
For Hugg, creating a sense of community in Downtown Smyrna is a big part of growing Smyrna. The objectives in this portion of the plan include retaining the charm and historic character, making downtown safe and secure, promoting mixed use, promoting the cultural aspect of the area, creating a sense of destination, ensuring adequate parking, and eliminating blight properties.
Hugg said he really sees the new library, whenever it's built, as the focal point of downtown.
Overall, Hugg wants Smyrna to be a place unlike any other.
"There's a sense of pride with the people here; they like it here and invest in Smyrna. People feel welcome and it's much more substantial than a banner. It's the people and the place," Hugg said. "I don't want it to lose its character and sense of place."