By David Hazledine
MILFORD — Forward Kosciusko County, the initiative to update the county’s 1996 comprehensive plan, held a public workshop at Milford School on Wednesday, June 9.
Turnout for the workshop was modest, with participants rarely outnumbering the organizers on hand. However, organizers stressed residents can still make their voice heard on the website, www.forwardkosciusko.com.
The low turnout was surprising given Milford’s noteworthy level of participation in Kosciusko Community Foundation’s “Hometown Chats,” which were the springboard for Forward Kosciusko’s current initiative to create comprehensive plans for both the county as a whole and individual communities like Milford.
The initiative is in the second of four phases, Information Gathering. According to the website, “The research within this initial phase will allow us to build a strong foundation for decision making as we move forward.” Wednesday night’s meeting was the last of three workshops during this phase.
Milford Clerk/Treasurer and Forward Kosciusko steering committee member Tricia Gall said, “there should be another meeting coming up,” noting one could not expect significant turnout “in one day.”
“Online helps to some extent,” said Gall, though, she added, “face-to-face brainstorming is important … it might help you think of something you didn’t think of before.”
Organizer Scott Siefker of Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group, confirmed there will be more opportunities in the next phases, but encouraged residents to visit the online survey, which will be available throughout June.
Van Buren Township Trustee Becky Alles stated the workshop was an “opportunity for citizens to get city and county governments to listen to you.”
Milford Town Councilman and Forward Kosciusko steering committee member Ken Long commented on the importance of a comprehensive plan for Milford, specifically when it comes to obtaining grants. “Without a comprehensive plan we can’t file for grants,” he said, adding community support for any project is of paramount concern to the government and non-profit bodies providing grants.
Long also stressed the importance of each community making its voice heard, as the concerns of one “might not be the concerns of another community.”
“We need people to be involved,” Long stated. “We don’t know if you don’t tell us … This forum gives us that kind of opportunity.”
Long and Alles echoed some of the comments posted on the kiosks provided by organizers. “It would be nice to see a means to attract small business,” said Long, who, like Alles is a longtime Milford resident who remembers when Milford supported two grocery stores and a pharmacy among other businesses.
Alles said, “We need growth in the township,” but noted it is “difficult to find affordable housing.” Like many other respondents, she also stressed the need for subsidized childcare.
Also at the event were representatives of Forward Kosciusko consulting firm American Structurepoint Inc. and MACOG.