Frankford Has Plans for Growing Town

Posted by Leslie Kopp & Christi Arndt on Friday, April 5th, 2024 at 11:15am

Credit to: Coastal Point, Kerin Magill

Frankford DE new construction homes

The Frankford Town Council has hired former Millsboro town manager Sheldon Hudson as a consultant who will act as a part-time town manager.

Hudson, who recently left his job as town manager in Smyrna and started a consulting business, Hudson Municipal Consulting, had his first day in the town office this week. He spoke with the Coastal Point on his way there on Wednesday, April 3.

“I’m excited,” Hudson said, adding that he just started his consulting firm “literally a couple weeks ago.” He said he had resigned from his position as Smyrna’s town manager, which he held for a year and a half, “on fine, amicable terms.”

The Frankford Town Council voted unanimously at its Monday, April 1, meeting to hire Hudson as a part-time consultant. According to Council President Greg Welch, Hudson will work for the town 20 hours a week. Cheryl Lynch, Frankford’s town clerk, will retain her position, Welch said.

Frankford officials had been discussing the possibility of, and the need for, hiring a town manager in recent months. With two large annexations completed and the possibility of as many as 900 new homes coming to the town, Welch said this week that the council realized it will need someone with expertise in dealing with a number of state and county agencies, as well as developers, as the development of the annexed properties moves forward.

“We were trying to figure out how to hire a town manager, and what a town manager was,” Welch said.

The council had originally spoken with Hudson about helping the Town obtain grant funding for improvements to Frankford Town Park, Welch said, but the discussion broadened to bringing Hudson on for more wide-ranging duties.

Hudson said his contract with the Town extends through the end of the fiscal year. Welch declined to divulge how much the Town will pay Hudson. Welch also said salary for a town manager will be included in Frankford’s upcoming discussion of the proposed budget for the 2025 fiscal year. He then clarified, saying, “I don’t think it will be a line item in the budget, but it will be discussed in the budget.”

The Town’s ability to pay a town manager’s salary, Welch said, “was a sticking point” in the Town’s discussions of adding that position to the town staff.

He said that when the council looked into what other municipalities pay their town managers, “We realized that that’s a very large percentage of our entire budget. So that’s the reason why we haven’t had a manager for so long. But we definitely have the necessity for it,” Welch said.

Looking toward future growth, he said, “was what made us realize that we needed to do it. We know there’s going to be a lot more work. … There’s going to be a lot more money coming in, but a lot more work to do, too.

“We get places, but very slowly, as a council that all have regular jobs and everything,” Welch said. “We don’t have as much time as it would take to get things rolling well enough.”

While he declined to say how much the Town would pay Hudson, he acknowledged that the council realized what it could afford to pay a town manager would be on the “low end” of the spectrum.

“A lot of people sign on to help our town because they just like the town, and they take less money to do it than other towns pay,” Welch said.

He said the council’s original proposal to bring Hudson on to work on the park improvements project was seen as a test “to see what a manager could bring to the table.”

“The further we talked with him and negotiated with him, we felt we could get him under contract for part-time,” at 20 hours a week. “We knew Mr. Hudson,” Welch said, having had discussions with him in the past about various issues facing the town.

“We didn’t do a deep dive into his background and everything, because we felt comfortable with him and knew him, and we’re using him as a consultant. It’s not very hard to sever a relationship with him. It’s not like an employee,” Welch said.

As far as what Hudson’s responsibilities will be, “We’re going to leave that on him, to establish this position as it grows,” Welch said.

Hudson said he does not want to be a full-time town manager in Frankford or any town, but would rather work part-time for several towns as a consultant.

Although Frankford officials have researched what town managers do in other towns, “We’ve never really worked with one,” Welch said. “When you read their description, they do everything.”

He said the direction of the town will still be directed by the council, “but it’s something we will be able to work out and learn” with Hudson’s assistance.

Welch said Lynch, the town clerk, “was the one who suggested, ‘Hey — you all need to get a town manager.’ With all the work coming, with all the development and everything else, she kind of lit the fire under us.”

“She does a great deal in running the town” as far as day-to-day operations,” Welch said. “She’s the real face of our town.”

He said that while some town managers do oversee police departments, that would not be the case in Frankford. But he said he does foresee Hudson at least helping Frankford’s police department obtain grants.

“I think that will be developed as we proceed,” Welch said.

Hudson was introduced at the town council meeting on Monday, and there was discussion of the council’s proposal to hire him during the meeting. The council voted in closed executive session to approve the proposed contract with Hudson.

“Everybody was on board,” Welch said.

“I’m hoping to work for maybe two or three or four towns on a part-time basis, as kind of a town management consultant,” Hudson said. “They used to call us ‘circuit riders,’” he said. “Basically, it’s smaller towns that can’t necessarily afford a full-time manager.

“I’ve always had a heart for Frankford,” Hudson said. “I think it’s a town that has a lot of unrealized potential. Obviously, it’s had its share of challenges over the years. I’m hoping to come on board and help them to maybe see more in the way of economic development and address some of the challenges they’re facing.”

“The council seems like they get along well. It seems like they’ll be easy to work with, so that’s certainly nice,” Hudson said, “to come into a low-drama environment. Not every town’s like that.”

Hudson praised Lynch, calling her “just a very pleasant, knowledgeable person. Talk about wearing a lot of hats,” he said. “It looks like she’s kind of been the quasi-, unofficial town manager for a while, so I certainly want to work with her and not step on her toes, either. I really look forward to that piece of it and just being a resource for her.”

Having served as Millsboro’s town manager for more than six years before taking the same position in Smyrna, he said, “We had a lot of annexations, and I’m hoping some of that experience can be of a benefit to Frankford as they move into more of a growth mode.”

He added that he sees “all the traffic they have pass through” Frankford as “a lot of untapped potential, while still preserving their small-town feel.” Hudson said he thinks his experience with obtaining grants will be helpful, especially when it comes to figuring out whether a particular grant is worth the work it takes to even apply for it.

“Grants tend to be a bit of a mirage. They look great from a distance,” Hudson said. “But then you get closer and, well, you’ve got this administrative cost, this compliance requirement…” and what it comes down to is “is the itch worth the scratch?” he said.

He said his current contract with Frankford extends through June “and then we’ll kind of re-evaluate from there. I’m certainly open to the idea of something longer term” but part-time.

“It seems to be a win-win,” Hudson said of his new relationship with Frankford.

He said he feels the consultant role will enable him to be more candid with town officials than he could as a town employee.

“You can come in and say the difficult things, maybe in a way that an employee doesn’t quite feel as comfortable doing.”

Meanwhile, Hudson said he feels he and the Frankford council “have a good rapport right out of the gate, and I think it’s going to be a great relationship.”


With the news of nearly 900 new construction homes being added to the Town of Frankford within the next couple of years, we can predict a drastic shift in the market.  To discuss this and the possibility of listing your property in Frankford or the Bethany Beach area, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office: (302) 541-5207,

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