Milford City Council OKs second phase of City Hall renovations

MILFORD — The Milford City Council approved plans to renovate two municipal buildings Monday.

First, the council unanimously approved spending $230,690 for the second phase of renovations on Milford City Hall’s basement, which was waterproofed last year after ongoing issues with flooding.

“There’s going to be a new training room, a kitchenette, three new offices and a new reception area included in the renovation,” said Mike Svaby, Milford’s public works director.

He noted there are some city employees working down there already, but that it’s essentially an unfinished basement at present.

“This is the second time we’ve spent a ton of money fixing down there,” said Councilman Todd Culotta. “I hope it never floods again, but it could happen. I think this is something that needs to be done, but if it were to happen again, we should reconsider what the purpose of that downstairs is.”

Mr. Svaby agreed, but noted that the new construction has held up to several heavy rainstorms so far.

“The residents of the city of Milford have always wanted us to do everything we can possibly do to preserve this building. We have definitely tried our best,” said Councilwoman Katrina Wilson.

“I hope and pray that this time it’s been sealed properly and there be no flooding and we stay true to our promise to keep this building as best as possible,” she said.

The council also approved an extra $11,591.84 to be spent on the Public Works building’s HVAC system. This was in addition to the $450,000 allocated to renovate the building in the 2019 Capital Budget.

New storage facility

Council also unanimously approved a conditional-use application for a new storage facility on South Dupont Highway despite the reservations of one vocal resident.

“We couldn’t find some another place in the city to put this?” asked Nina Pletcher. “We’re talking about the entrance to our city.”

She believed that the approval of this project would set the city back in numerous ways.

“We just keep putting things in our way. We’re tripping over ourselves,” she said. “We want to have a walkable city, we want to have a bikeable city, we want to have a beautiful city and we want people to come here, and then we trip over ourselves trying to deter people.”

She was also concerned about the increased traffic the site would bring to the area surrounding the intersection of Dupont Highway and Del. 14, which she said often gets backed up.

Ms. Pletcher pointed out that the facility will only be accessible on the northbound side of U.S. 113, which means anyone trying to access the facility from the southbound side of the road would need to turn around. She believed this would bring more congestion to a road that already frequently gets choked up with travelers going to and from Ocean City, Maryland.

“One of the things the planning commission took into consideration (is) from a traffic trip count you can’t get much less than a storage facility. If this were offices or a commercial strip center… traffic would have been a greater consideration,” said City Planner Rob Pierce.

Mr. Culotta felt the use was appropriate for the lot.

“I certainly understand where you’re coming from, Ms. Pletcher, but this is a commercial property on a busy highway,” he said. “We can’t stop progress.”

But there was one member of council who agreed with Ms. Pletcher’s line of thinking and voted against approving the conditional use.

“I find something like that right on the opening to our city to not be conducive to the city picture that we’re trying to present everywhere else,” said Councilman Andrew Fulton. “We have five other self-storage facilities in Milford off main thoroughfares.”

Roof rule

At the behest of Mr. Pierce, council also approved a change to the municipal code requiring new roofs to be built with ice barrier underlayments to keep ice and water from creeping under a roof’s shingles and up the underlying structure, which causes rot over time.

“Any good roofing contractor would normally put this in,” said Councilman Todd Culotta, who is a contractor by trade. “It’s kind of an industry standard at this point, so I don’t see a problem with requiring it.”

Mr. Culotta pointed out that this would be required if an entire roof is being replaced.

“It would only be for a roof replacement, not a roof repair,” he said. “Technically, you’re allowed to go over old shingles if it’s just one layer. Good roofers don’t do that, but it’s allowed.”

New employees

The council also welcomed two new municipal employees on Monday night.

Mr. Svaby introduced the council to Larry Hardway, the newly hired solid waste driver who will be responsible for carting off garbage and other refuse. The Delaware native recently relocated to Milford from West Virginia.

The council also approved Ian Wright, another new arrival to Milford, as a member of the Parks and Recreation department’s advisory board. City Manager Mark Whitfield explained Mr. Wright was filling a vacancy on the board left by Edward Evans, a former member who stepped down to become a youth soccer coach for the city.