Main Street makeover will change downtown face of Millsboro

A sizeable portion of downtown Millsboro will undergo a major facelift with the Main Street improvements project, which includes plans for new sidewalks/brick pavers, water line replacement, paving and storm-water upgrades.

MILLSBORO – East and west, north and south, Millsboro appears to be well-positioned for enhancement and development.

By Memorial Day 2019, an extreme makeover of a good portion of the town’s downtown business district should be completed through the Main Street improvements project.

The Main Street initiative includes new sidewalks most likely augmented by a decorative brick paver component and enhanced, decorative street lighting.

The project will run along both sides of Main Street from Church Street to State Street.

Some $275,000 has been budgeted for fiscal year 2019.

“I think it is going to send a huge message to the community, to the public that the town is serious about investing in the downtown and just making it a more aesthetically pleasing area, even more walkable and a place to visit for sure,” said Millsboro Town Manager Sheldon Hudson.

Jason Loar of Davis, Bowen & Friedel presented a project update with various options and scope during Millsboro council’s Sept. 4 meeting.

Three sidewalk/paver options span a low estimate of $343,000 with 18-inch pavers and concrete to $433,000 for all-brick pavers, Mr. Loar said.

“More brick, more cost,” said Mr. Loar.

Town council is considering several sidewalk/brick paver schemes, possibly alternate options.

In addition, the project will likely include replacement of some water lines. “They are several decades old. it is the right time to look at doing that work as well,” said Mr. Hudson.

Water line replacement is estimated to cost about $90,000, Mr. Hudson said. Funding could be pulled from monies set aside by the town in the current budget for water-related improvements throughout the town.

“So, we kind of would be pulling from two budget items,” said Mr. Hudson.

Some paving and storm-water improvements are expected to be included in the Main Street project.

Bidding is expected to be held sometime this fall.

“The goal is to have all of the work finished by Memorial Day,” said Mr. Hudson. “The town has talked to the business owners downtown and there seems to be obviously a preference for not having the summer business season disrupted. So, the goal is Memorial Day, and that certainly has been relayed to our consultant and will be relayed to the contractor as well when the time comes.”

In 2014, nearby Berlin, Maryland was named America’s Coolest Small Town in an online poll sponsored by Budget Travel. The hope is Millsboro’s downtown will at some point garner similar recognition.

“That is the goal. I would really like to see the Millsboro downtown take on a Berlin, Easton, Lewes type feel,” said Mr. Hudson. “And then as far as out on the highway, I really think that we are already starting to become this, but I think in terms of highway commercial and becoming kind of a retail, restaurant hub, I think we are on our way to becoming the next Salisbury, Dover, Rehoboth-type of destination for that when you think about what is in the pipeline.”

“I think we are very blessed in that regard to have the potential to still have the charm of a town but the convenience of a city,” said Mr. Hudson. “I don’t think a lot of municipalities have that freedom just because of geography. But I think we do, where we have (Rt.) 24 going east and west, and (US) 113 north and south. I think that really captures where Millsboro is going.”

In addition, town leaders anticipate the municipal parking lot between Main Street and Washington Street to State Street will be seal-coated sometime this fall, with new striping and signage, further augmenting the Main Street project.

“This project is going to completely change the look of downtown,” said Mr. Hudson.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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