With over 10,000 residents, the Town of Smyrna has grown quite a bit in the last decade and continues to do so. Along with all this growing has come planning, planning on where Smyrna is headed in the future.

One of the biggest projects on the horizon for the town is the infrastructure going north of Duck Creek. This spring the Town of Smyrna will put utilities north of the creek, and it is a project Town Manager Dave Hugg believes will be a catalyst for other things to come.

"I think it's long overdue and it's critical for any rational development of that area north of Duck Creek. What's constrained that area for decades is it doesn't have adequate public water, sewer, and electric," Hugg said. "Now that we're able to start to say to people 'it's 2013, by the end of the year you're going to have utilities on the east side in front of your door,' that's going to make a difference."

The project includes putting a water system, sewer system, pump station and eventually a water tower north of Duck Creek. The water system, sewer system, and pump station aspects of the project will go to bid and start construction this spring. Different aspects of the project will finish at varying times, with an expected final completion of November.

The water system will be paid for through a USDA loan while the sewer work is being done through a DNREC loan.

Why it matters

Hugg believes taking utilities up north is the logical extension of Smyrna in terms of growing the community.

"I think it offers an outstanding opportunity to create another employment center both for retail and for business uses, which is critical to the future of the town," Hugg said.

The town hopes that by putting in utilities north of the town, the project will help generate employment, and new investments. And that's just on the east side of the town where the utilities will be. There are proposed plans for multiple housing developments on the west side of Route 13.

Mayor Pat Stombaugh said she has mixed emotions about taking the utilities north because it's a lot of money, but she's hoping it'll generate jobs and revitalize the area.

"Unfortunately the old saying is 'you have to spend money, to make money,'" Stombaugh said.

Improving Route 13

Tied into the utilities projects is a Route 13 Corridor Study the town did with the state and the Dover/Kent County MPO. The study looks into ways the highway can be improved and made to feel a part of the town.

Duck Creek is considered the northern section of this study, which suggests this area should have a trail and footbridge to improve walkability, improved street lighting, landscaping, and redevelopment of vacant sites into commercial uses; these ideas are in addition to the residential uses on the west and proposed business park.

Hugg said he can see the area north of town expanding on what's already up there with Parkview RV and Ronny's Garden World with the recreation theme. However, he wants the development up north to still feel like Smyrna: "Our objective in this whole corridor initiative is to try and make it all one kind of expanded community and what I'd really like to do is get people off the interchange and on Route 13 and have them come into town because there's other opportunities for them up and down the corridor."

Moreover, Hugg doesn't just want people to drive through town on Route 13; the town wants to find ways to get people to turn off of the highway and into town. Hugg would want to see the downtown area revitalize so it'll lure people into Smyrna. One project they're hoping will help with downtown is the proposed Duck Creek Regional Library off of East Commerce Street.

Impact on the town

Not only does Hugg think the utilities will bring development north of the creek, but he feels it will encourage developers to bring business elsewhere to town, including south of Smyrna.

"I think that some of that momentum and some of the momentum from the corridor study will also spill over to the south because what will happen is not everybody is going to want to build north of Duck Creek," Hugg said. "But they're not going to want to miss the opportunity to come to Smyrna."

Councilman Jeff Flairty is the chairman of the Long Range Planning Committee, which has spent a lot of time discussing both the potential development north of Duck Creek and the Route 13 Corridor Study.

Flairty said these two projects can help recreate the feeling of a downtown and give the town a chance to get away from cookie cutter developments. He likes the idea of creating walking spaces and trails within developments, and being able to build an area were a resident can walk from their house to a movie theater, or ride their bike to work.

"This offers an opportunity for the town to do things with the vision of the town for tomorrow," Flairty said. "We can make this such a better place and community to live."

Email Jennifer Dailey at jennifer.dailey@doverpost.com.