Letter to the Editor: Milford will thrive with or without you

In response to recent negative news coverage regarding our Downtown District, we, the Downtown Milford, Inc. (DMI) Board of Directors, wish to counter Touch of Italy’s Bob Ciprietti’s comments.

Several years ago, DMI rebranded and part of the now-adopted rebranding statement explained our downtown as this:

Our downtown is the heart of our creative transformation. Our galleries, shops and performance spaces are gathering places for people from all walks of life. Our events allow us to celebrate the place we call home. We remain a center of commerce for a rural community, an escape from the pressures of urban life, and a community centered on family.

We are the kind of place where a children’s class inspires leaders, a landscape inspires artists, and a history inspires vision.

These words still ring true today, and Mr. Ciprietti’s comments, therefore, misrepresent the heart of our city, the Downtown Historic District. In fact, there are currently so many positives in Milford, including, but certainly not limited to, being named the 2018 Village of the Year by Kent County Tourism earlier this month.

Recognitions like this are not happenstance. They are granted to communities who collaborate on one collective vision for a city. Our downtown merchants are a strategic part of that collaboration and vision and we wholeheartedly support the men, women and families who put their lifeblood into a brick and mortar in downtown Milford.

Owning a small business in a small town is no small feat and these community-centric business owners are doing their part to make Milford the best place to live, work, and play. We challenge Mr. Ciprietti to do the same in our great town. He currently owns a cornerstone in our downtown district and the longer it goes undeveloped, the more he welcomes the unwanted behavior he so graphically describes.

As a designated Main Street organization, DMI must adhere to the Eight Principles of Main Street. The first of which is Comprehensive: Downtown revitalization is a complex process that cannot be accomplished through a single project. For successful, long-term revitalization, a comprehensive approach must be used.

We, as a downtown community, are working comprehensively to bring the Milford vision to life. Were we excited to learn three years ago that Touch of Italy would open a location in Milford? Yes! But did we put all of our revitalization eggs in one Touch of Italy basket? No! At this point, the community has continued to develop as Mr. Ciprietti’s building sits vacant. In the time he’s owned the building in Milford, we’ve opened or expanded nearly 20 new businesses in downtown.

So, Mr. Ciprietti, while we would love to see you revitalize the old bank building into a community-driven restaurant, we want to be clear that our community is comprehensively booming with or without your business.

The DMI vision is that our community will become a unique and vibrant destination place, a welcoming focal point for community gatherings, and a desirable place to live, shop, learn, work, and enjoy recreational opportunities. We applaud our current business community for helping us bring that vision to life – #WeAreMilford.

Yours in service,

Downtown Milford, Inc. Board of Directors

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