The Waterways Infrastructure and Investment Network (WIIN) is completing its final report on their Nature Based Investment Strategy, hoping to connect the towns of Slaughter Beach and Milford using the Mispillion River in order to promote eco-tourism and conservation. The final report will be provided to City Council this winter.
“We’ve undertaken an assessment of risks to natural hazards, particularly flooding and sea level rise as well as land use changes and how that might impact the area going forward,” Danielle Swallow of WIIN said. “We are also drawing from a report that we’ve since finished and I briefed you on many months ago regarding economic valuation of the system, natural resources in terms of the value that they derive from recreation and tourism activities. The next piece of this plan will dive into actual investment ideas that we garnered.”
Swallow pointed out that Milford and Slaughter Beach actually have a good relationship in that people who live in Slaughter Beach depend on Milford for commercial activities such as shopping while Milford residents depended on Slaughter Beach for recreational purposes. In both communities, it appeared that there was a strong desire to extend the Riverwalk. Another factor that seemed to be lacking in both areas was signage as well as a desire to see growth of pedestrian and bicycle paths.
“Increasing access along the Mispillion River is another request,” Swallow said. “If you set off from Milford by water to the mouth of the bay, you may come across currents and tides and there is really no access or egress point midway if your suddenly not able to continue. We really need to take that to heart and look for ways to identify access points for non-motorized boats. More signage about tides and currents as well as more platforms for birding, fishing or wildlife viewing in general, watching sunsets and really, really trying to promote Slaughter Beach as a sports season rest stop area.”
Councilman Andy Fulton asked if there was any discussion of putting a soda machine that would sell water in Slaughter Beach had been discussed. Swallow said there was and also talk of adding a small, seasonal café in the beach town.
Ben Muldrow of Arnett and Muldrow presented council with a branding concept that they hoped to implement as part of the WIIN program. Muldrow presented what he felt would be a great brand statement.
“Deep in a hardwood forest, three small creeks converge. The woods that surround us make our waters dark, and rich, nearly invisible. Naturally unnoticed. Together they grow. Through millpond ponds, the waters become one, flowing through grist mills and past many a spillway to form the story of our agricultural past. We then become lakes, our Griffith, Haven and Silver from eagles nesting behind historic homes to fishermen in the shadow of Ice Cream Island, many experience the reflective beauty of life on the water,” Muldrow read. “On we pass into the heart of Delaware’s shipbuilding legacy. It was here that our ancestors built the ships that kept America safe. It was here that our economy and nature intertwined. Our trip was not done. We pass island hiking trails, kayak launches, and an old school drawbridge as we reach the pristine beauty of our tidal marsh. Here, nature truly surrounds us. Wildlife refuges and protected wetlands shield this place where saltwater and fresh comes together, where tides shape our shores, and where the quiet and beauty of Delaware is evident from every angle. As we reach the mouth of the river, the horizon opens up. We arrive at the bay and a beach community that truly values the stewardship of nature, a place that can simply be described as a sanctuary. We’ve been called by so many names yet are still unknown to so many. Creeks, ponds, rivers, lakes, marshes harbors and beaches. We are all the best of where land meets water. We are the Mispillion.”
Muldrow pointed out that when his company created the town’s “River Town, Art Town, Home Town” brand, they knew that the river running through the heart of town was critical and the conduit for Milford’s uniqueness. In his view, Milford needed to position themselves as a water town.
“There is no other state that has displayed their connection and is even looking at implementing a multi-organizational approach and building brand equity around it,” Muldrow said. “We’re really excited about the process.”
Councilman Brian Baer felt it would be beneficial to have designs incorporated into the Riverwalk to promote the program. Muldrow mentioned he was now on the board of Downtown Milford Inc. and would talk to Joey Phillips, “the banner guru,” to see if he could develop some banners to promote the WIIN project.
“If I could just say, the marsh between Milford and Slaughter Beach, in the marsh area, it is just beautiful,” Councilman Fulton said. “It’s quiet and serene and something you will not get to experience on a motorboat or jetski. You have to get out there in a paddle-powered craft to really enjoy it. To really see nature in its full beauty.”
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