MILFORD — The American Planning Association (APA) today announced the designation of North and South Walnut Street in the city of Milford as one of 10 Great Streets for 2013.
APA singled out North and South Walnut Street for its historic architecture; a $2.2 million public-private revitalization, including sidewalk and street improvements, erosion control and the Mispillion River walkway; and the community’s unique, locally owned businesses and developing visual and performing arts scene.
“The City of Milford is extremely pleased and appreciative to be designated as a Great Street by the American Planning Association for 2013. This designation is a reflection of all the efforts by so many individuals and organizations that led to such a significant improvement to Walnut Street and to its being selected as a Great Street for 2013. The City of Milford is honored and grateful for this award,” said Mayor Joseph R. “Ronnie” Rogers.
Each year during National Community Planning Month APA’s Great Places in America program names 30 exemplary streets, neighborhoods and public spaces to highlight the role planning and planners play in adding value to communities, including fostering economic growth and jobs.
“There’s a community spirit and pride in Milford that you can see and feel along Walnut Street,” said APA Chief Executive Officer Paul Farmer, FAICP. “Milford recognizes that in order to attract new businesses to Walnut and keep the downtown economy thriving, historic architecture by itself is not enough. It also takes planning, reinvestment, community support and marketing the town’s unique identity.”
From the wealth produced during Milford’s 18th Century ship building days came the investment used to expand downtown and develop a new main street – North and South Walnut. Well-to-do families in Milford spared little expense when building on Walnut Street, whether in the Federal, Greek revival or a Victorian architectural style.
Recognizing the value of its history and historic architecture, the town made $2.2 million in public and private investments between 1995 and 2000, including sidewalk and street improvements, erosion control and the Mispillion River walkway. In 2007, additional improvements were made along Walnut Street including removal of utility poles, burying power lines, adding benches and sidewalk planters, and adding historic lighting.
Complementing these physical improvements has been a rebranding and marketing campaign, based on the town motto, “Art Town, River Town, Home Town,” and inclusion of Walnut Street in Delaware’s Main Street program in 2008. Events attracting visitors to town include the Mispillion Arts League’s annual “Fine Art Show” and the Bug & Bud Festival celebrating Arbor Day, which features a ladybug costume parade that draws more than 8,000 visitors to Milford.
APA’s Great Streets, Great Neighborhoods and Great Public Spaces feature unique and authentic characteristics that have evolved from years of thoughtful and deliberate planning by residents, community leaders and planners. The 2013 Great Places have many things Americans say are important to their “ideal community,” including locally owned businesses, transit, neighborhood parks, and sidewalks. They illustrate how the foresight of planning fosters communities of lasting value.
The nine other APA 2013 Great Streets are: Palafox Street, Pensacola, FL; Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI; Bridge Street, Las Vegas, NM; C Street, Virginia City, NV; Market Street, Corning, NY; Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA; Broadway, Jim Thorpe, PA; The Strand, Galveston, TX; and West Beverley Street, Staunton, VA.
“Nice to see (Downtown Milford Incorporated) and the city's collaboration is being recognized nationally. We are in good company with streets in places like: Pensacola, Florida; Honolulu, Hawaii; Virginia City, Nevada; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Galveston, Texas,” said DMI Executive Director Lee Nelson.
The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of good planning -- physical, economic and social — so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. Members of APA help create communities of lasting value and encourage civic leaders, business interests and citizens to play a meaningful role in creating communities that enrich people's lives. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, Ill.