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Grant helps Milltown plan for growth

July 15, 2009
The Town of Milltown wants to have a plan for its future. That's why officials there are thankful to have received a $49,050 planning grant from the state recently.

The grant, administered by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs through the Small Cities and Towns Development Block Grant program, will be used by the town to fund a comprehensive study plan.

Curt Hudson, president of the Milltown Town Council, said the plan will help the town "manage future growth," as the last comprehensive study plan was done prior to the downtown revitalization project about a decade ago.

Milltown, he said, is like a lot of small towns with respect to the challenges it faces in growing.

"If we're going to grow, where are we going to grow?" he asked.

The comprehensive study plan will answer that question by targeting areas, like infrastructure, water supply and affordable housing strategies, and developing ways to best improve them to make the town more attractive for growth, Hudson said.

Milltown has seen some recent economic growth in its downtown, including the opening of a video store earlier this year and an art gallery in the old Masonic Lodge building this past weekend.

"You don't always know when those opportunities will come for the town," Hudson said.

Although the likelihood of it being implemented is small, he said, the comprehensive study plan may even take a look at zoning.

"Is it something we want to do?" Hudson asked. "I don't think we want to ... but it's something that really needs to be looked at."

The town already has laid much of the foundation for growth, Hudson said.

Milltown, with the help of Crawford County, has added broadband Internet and improved cell phone service, he said, adding the town's wastewater treatment plant also underwent a much-needed upgrade.

Plus, work on the most visible improvement to the town is going on now, as construction crews work to replace the single-lane downtown bridge over Blue River that connects the Crawford and Harrison County sides of Milltown with a new, two-lane structure.

"We really need something like this ... ," Hudson said of the comprehensive study plan. "We're getting stuff in place."

By developing a plan, the town will not only be able to foster growth but ensure that it doesn't lose anymore of its identity, he said.

"We know if we don't, it's going to dry up and blow away," he said.

Hudson said the planning grant, which required a 10-percent match from the town, stipulates that the comprehensive study plan be completed by the middle of next year, and the town council wants the community to be involved.

"We're going to try to get as many people in town to participate on as many committees that are created," he said.

Milltown isn't alone in developing long-term strat-egies. Leavenworth recently completed a comprehensive study plan, while Marengo earlier this year received a $30,000 planning grant to fund a storm drainage system analysis.

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