Millsboro continues discussion of municipal building swap

Costs, mobility for police are key talking points

The Millsboro Town Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14, for the fourth session dedicated to the future of Town Hall and the police department.

When the Council met for the third session on Oct. 3, the consensus was building a new, two-story town hall downtown and moving the police station into existing town hall, after renovations.

The police station is currently on Main Street.

“They informally expressed an interest in moving forward with a slightly modified version of the two-story option presented by the architect,” Town Manager Sheldon Hudson said.

They decided to combine the council chamber and public meeting room into a single shared space and considered eliminating a restroom on the second floor and adding one on first floor.

There was no change to the plan for the police department to relocate. The estimated cost to renovate for the police department is $5.3 million, said Mike Wigley of Davis, Bowen & Friedel, Inc., in Salisbury, who is in charge of that project.

In August, when the council first started discussing these matters, Calloway said being downtown could make the police department vulnerable to attacks such as a truck ramming the building, and spoke in favor of moving.

“If police were in the existing town hall, we wouldn’t have that type of traffic. If I needed to get to Route 113 from this town hall, I could almost run there from here. I could be there in a short period of time, but from Main Street downtown, it can be difficult for us to get to Route 113 as quickly. From town hall, if I need to get to 113 and 24 for a major accident, I can get there very quickly,” he said.

During the first special meeting, council members have discussed reducing the size by eliminating extra offices that were included in the original design, for future employees who will be hired as the town grows. In September, Freddy Bada of Moonlight Architecture in Lewes, who is designing the new town hall, estimated the cost of the building, with nine additional offices, a second floor and two stairways, at $4.2 to $4.3 million.

But Hudson said the cost will come down.

“It doesn’t take into account getting rid of the meeting room and getting rid of about half the extra offices. We will have maybe around $1 million of cost avoidance. We talked about having to borrow, but council is not interested in borrowing. We have talked to one consultant about the town’s debt load and she said we certainly are at a middle range and not too high. That’s good to know.

“If the town spent that much for a new town hall, we would have to do some reallocating, but probably not borrowing. Council can reallocate its set-asides,” Hudson explained, referring to reserve funds.

“There is $4.3 million in our budget, to use to build, and the town would have to borrow and use transfer tax. There is $5.5 million set aside for expenses including infrastructure, water meters and streets,” he said.

Bada recommended monumental stairs as an accent and bridge scheme with the bridge connecting the meeting room to the rest of the building. The outside of the building would have a new feel, but not sterile, with the town’s trademark wheel accented and dormers at the roof line.

The elevator shaft would be used as a clock tower, with a clock placed high, he said.

But at the September meeting, council members asked for deletions, to save money, and Bada said extra offices can be added later.

“As a matter of fact, maybe we could keep the design the way it is now … knock off the five futures (offices), then all we have to do is lift the roof off and build it if we need those extra five offices 10 years from now. Then we aren’t heating and air conditioning it and paying for those offices we don’t need. I’m just thinking of ways to save money so we have the money when we need it,” said Councilman Tim Hodges.

“You’re not going to be happy adding on to a one-story building, because you’re going to have to displace people. You’d be much better off building a smaller, two-story building,” Wigley said.

The same floor plan would be used, with no extra offices on the sides of the building. Then, in the future, an addition could be built against the existing structure.

Once 90 percent of construction is complete, a corridor would be cut through, he explained.

By Susan Canfora
Staff Reporter