Open letter to the Milford Borough Council and Milford stakeholders regarding central sewage in a small town

| 02 Dec 2020 | 01:45

I write to you as a 27-year veteran Milford business person, community leader and neighbor, someone with an invested interest in the Borough with the experience, knowledge and concerns to oppose the central sewer project as proposed by Milford Borough Council and lobbied by Milford Borough Mayor Sean Strub. I won’t be attending the public comment meeting on Dec. 3 and would appreciate that this letter be read in my absence and entered into the official record regarding this matter.

Milford has been a hub of hospitality for more than two centuries, a quaint river town surrounded by trees and wildlife and offering a wide range of accommodations. For 200 years, dining, drinking and lodging in the borough has ebbed and flowed, and for 200 years, Milford’s cesspools and septic systems have served the thousands of guests through our doors and on our own properties.

Milford, as we know it, is a patchwork of historic inns and eateries nestled in among homes and buildings that have grown up around them, many repurposed to accommodate businesses due to a lack of existing commercial spaces. My family’s property is a prime example of a 19th-century home adapted for retail use. When choosing the location, we considered our plans, our needs and the appropriateness of the building. I would expect that our neighbors went through a similar process to decide if their location would suit their needs. We didn’t require a public restroom and for nearly three decades, we’ve gone without one. In that time, we might have spent $500 total to maintain our system, equivalent to less than $20 per year that we’ve been here. As a community, we’ve grown to what we are with what we have and have maintained our historic integrity as a result.

While a handful of property owners would benefit from a larger central system, it will not serve the larger public interest to proceed with the expensive and invasive sewer project as proposed by the Milford Borough Council. The current plan requires property owners on the planned “route” to tie-in to the system without offering an opt-out for those of us, the majority of all property owners, who otherwise don’t require, don’t want to and/or frankly, can’t afford to hook up. Why should my family have to incur a $20,000-$40,000 initial expense to tie-in with a monthly or quarterly bill in perpetuity with zero added benefit to our business so that the restaurant down the street doesn’t have to call the septic company after a busy weekend or the hotel can further develop their parking lot/septic field? Why should we have to take out a loan to finance another business’s upgrade? Why should we be forced to consider closing our doors because of the Borough Council’s shortsighted plan’s impact on our small family business? What will the impact be on organizations like the Historical Society, Columns Museum and Pike County Library when the expense of tying-in comes due? What guarantees do residents have that a central sewer system is financially sustainable and won’t leave them holding the bag as equipment ages out, as experienced in other communities? And while we’re at it, what benefit outweighs the environmental risk that a high capacity central sewer system will put on the Delaware River, our main attraction, downhill from whatever system the council decides to approve?

Following a week of unprecedented local Covid cases, it’s inappropriate to proceed with a public hearing and any related decisions as scheduled. The borough council’s determination to stay on course with planned public meetings despite the imminent threat to community health is irresponsible and could easily be interpreted as a means of suppressing public opinion. To expect Milford’s older, at-risk or unequipped stakeholders to appear in person or via Zoom for what may be the Borough’s most defining and divisive issue of the century is both exclusionary and elitist.

So yeah, I’m opposed to a central sewer in Milford. I’m ecstatic for anyone whose business is booming to the point of excess meal prep, dishwashing, laundry and flushing but to put it bluntly, I suggest that those property owners who have exceeded their waste capacity handle their own s---.

Yours respectfully,

Amy Eisenberg

Milford Craft Show