Millsboro continuing town hall talks

The Millsboro Town Council planned to meet for a special session at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12, to continue discussing plans for a new town hall and relocation of the police department.

Council members also planned to determine the amount volunteers will receive in the form of honorariums, to thank them for helping with this year’s annual Christmas parade and tree-lighting ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 7.

At the last special meeting, the town council unanimously approved a new two-story town hall, designed with a barn look and featuring the symbolic mill wheel outside. It will be built at what is being characterized as The Gateway, downtown beside the existing Millsboro Police Department at 307 Main Street. The existing MPD building will be razed to create about 50 new parking spaces.

The police department will move into the existing Town Hall, at 322 Wilson Highway, after renovations.

No groundbreaking date has yet been set, Town Manager Sheldon Hudson said, adding that it’s too soon to know.

“I’m more excited that the downtown will get a major revitalization and new sidewalks than I am about getting a new town hall,” he said.

At the November special meeting, council members approved options for both the first-floor and second-floor town hall designs, with modifications.

“There had been some talk about a patio area and maybe enclosing it to make more of a back hallway. They made the footprint a little smaller, reducing it by eliminating extra offices,” Hudson said.

Originally, extra offices were included in the design for future employees who will be hired as the town grows, but because they aren’t yet on the staff, those offices were deleted from the plan, with the option of adding them later.

The exterior hasn’t been finalized, but Hudson said he and Mayor Michelle Truitt like the idea of a brick building.

“The idea is to tie into the existing architecture in the downtown area,” Hudson said.

“Based on consultant input, there was a large differential number floated that was $3 to $4 million less expensive to remodel the town hall than to build a new police station on the Gateway site. We have talked about what renovations will be done at existing town hall, but that will be set aside for the time being, until the new town hall is partially complete. They will decide about that in the future,” Hudson said.

The estimated cost to renovate for the police department is $5.3 million, said Mike Wigley of Davis, Bowen & Friedel Inc., of Salisbury, Md., who is in charge of that project.

In August, when the council first started discussing these matters, Police Chief Brian 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 to the existing town hall.

Freddy Bada of Moonlight Architecture in Lewes, who is designing the new town hall, estimated that cost, with nine additional offices, a second floor and two stairways, at $4.2 to $4.3 million. But Hudson said the cost will be lower without those offices.

“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,” Hudson said.

 

By Susan Canfora
Staff Reporter