UD interns design new signage scheme for Milford

MILFORD — Two University of Delaware students working with the city of Milford for the summer capped off their internships Monday night with a presentation to city council.

Rising seniors Samantha Lee and Alex Beam, both engineering students, explained to the council their proposal to make downtown easier to navigate via new signage.

“Over the summer Alex and I worked on the Milford Pedestrian and Motor Vehicle Wayfinding Project. The goal of this project was to solve the issue with the current parking system,” Ms. Lee said, and to “to make the Riverwalk more user-friendly.”

Ms. Lee said, at present, navigating to and identifying public parking lots in town can be a challenge.

“We wanted the community to be able to locate the public parking lots and then find the ones that are closest to their end destinations,” Ms. Lee said. “With these parking lots, it’s really hard to see where you need to go because there’s poor directional signs.”

The duo proposed adding dozens of new signs directing people to parking downtown along major thoroughfares crisscrossing Milford’s core areas such as Washington Street, Walnut Street and all of the Front streets.

“We tried to keep the routing of cars going to parking lots equal to the capacity and flow of traffic,” Mr. Beam said.

They also came up with a series of ornamental signs to denote public parking lots.

“This way it’ll solve the problem of people not knowing which parking lot is public and which isn’t,” Ms. Lee said. “If they’re driving and they’re trying to park some place, they’ll see this at the entrance of the parking lot and know they’re allowed to park there.”

Ms. Lee and Mr. Beam came up with some potential naming schemes for the parking system, too.

“Trees was the one we were kind of leaning toward the best,” Mr. Beam said. “We went out to all the parking lots and tried to match them the best we could with that.”

For example, the parking lot between North Walnut Street and North Washington Street on Northeast Front Street would be called ‘Pine,’ while the one across Walnut Street would be called ‘Cherry,’ and the one south on Washington Street by the Mispillon River would be dubbed ‘Birch.’

Councilman Brian Baer had an idea to further the tree theme.

“I was wondering if maybe we could get a picture of the leaf of the tree or the branch of the tree on the signs to make it a little easier for people to remember where they are,” he said.

Ms. Lee said she would come up with some designs and have James Puddicombe, the city engineer, send them to the council.

Improving Milford’s Riverwalk was another focus for the interns.

“We wanted to connect the Riverwalk so people know where it is and how it continues and we wanted to install mile markers for safety so if something happens on the Riverwalk, people know where they are,” Mr. Beam said.

At present, he said there are two places where the Riverwalk is disconnected. One is by the corner of Southwest Front Street and North Church Avenue and the other is between Franklin Street and Columbia Street on the river behind the Calvary United Methodist Church.

“Nothing really designates that the Riverwalk continues there,” Mr. Beam said. “There are multiple ways we could go about fixing that. The route that we were thinking on taking is something like a painted path.”

He suggested that a line of colorful trees, geese or ducks on the ground would be a good way to denote that the walkway continues.

“Currently, nothing really makes the Riverwalk obvious,” Mr. Beam said. “There are a few signs spread out, but they’re pretty small.”

He wanted there to be more definitive signage like map stands that would allow walkers to orient themselves within the larger downtown area.

Ms. Lee also noted that installing 22 mile markers for both safety and to track distance were part of their proposal. There would be one every tenth of a mile. She presented three options for the trail markers, including small metal medallions, simple composite wooden posts or more ornate cedar markers.

Mayor Archie Campbell wanted to know which of the options presented would be most weather-resistant.

“I would lean towards probably the metal emplacements. The other thing that I had them look at and the reason they came up with the items they did is any sort of graffiti or vandalism,” Mr. Puddicombe said.

He had encouraged his interns to find options “that couldn’t easily be ripped off or painted over.”

Councilman Mike Boyle asked for a timeline of when these recommendations would be implemented. City Manager Mark Whitfield said that it would take about three months for the signs to be produced and that they would likely be installed in the winter of this year and spring of next year.

Several councilmembers, including Mr. Boyle, thanked the interns for their work.

“I want to thank Alex and Sam for all the work that they’ve done,” Mr. Boyle said. “This is just one of those nagging projects that we could never quite get to, and I’m delighted that we had a chance to utilize them and I hope they learned something from the experience.”

Mayor Campbell summed up the council’s sentiment when he told Ms. Lee and Mr. Beam that, “You guys rocked it.”