DAGSBORO — A new headquarters hub for the town’s police department is part of a conceptual plan that includes a separate conference room, improvements to the existing Town Hall and possibly a new entrance/exit, provided an easement is granted.
The entire project, which carries an estimated $675,000 price tag, could be funded by state monies through local representatives and the bond bill, a loan and/or town funds.
“We do have limited funds that we can use toward the project but will try for grant money first,” said Dagsboro Town Administrator Cindi Brought. “We may end up having to do a low-interest loan from (the U.S. Department of Agriculture), but we’ll see.”
The site is at the town’s current Main Street location, as the lot next door was gifted to Dagsboro, allowing for expansion.
Plans call for a two-story, 2,050-square-foot police structure. The 450-square-foot meeting room would be separate, and there would be a breezeway sandwiched between the meeting room facility and Town Hall. The new police base and meeting room would likely be pole-type buildings.
At present, Dagsboro’s police force includes three full-time officers and two part-time officers.
The town is seeking to fix masonry work on the outside of the building and new flooring and ceiling tiles, as well as an updated bathroom facility and other upgrades.
Fifteen parking spaces are included. Four spaces are designated for police use along the south side of the new station, separate from the other 11.
The town projects that the $675,000 will cover conceptual architectural drawings, engineering, the construction itself and construction management for the initiative.
The mayor and all council members sided with the two-story police station, rather than a one-story option.
“Obviously, I think I like the two-story a little better, only because it allows a little bit more parking and, to me, flows a little bit better,” said Dagsboro Police Chief Steven Flood. “But I am at the mercy of the council.”
Mayor Brian Baull agreed with the chief.
“Your opinion is valued because you will be working in there every day,” said Mayor Baull, who also favors the two-story option because it allows for parking spaces for police separate from the parking earmarked for the public and town staff.
The police department is currently based in a small building behind Town Hall.
Council’s vote was 4-0-1, with Mayor Baull and council members Theresa Ulrich, Patrick Miller and Norwood Truitt casting affirmative votes, while Councilman William Chandler III abstained.
Councilman Chandler, who gifted an adjoining parcel to the south of the town’s property, said he abstained “because of the potential interest I have in the way the property is configured. So I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to vote.”
There is an easement element in the proposal, as plans would call for 15 feet to the south, to make way for a new entrance/exit.
Kyle Gulbronson, the town’s engineer and consultant from AECOM, explained that “one of the problems that we have is the existing entrance to Town Hall being too close to the traffic signal. And the wish list would be to move it as far south as we could. If an access easement could be granted, (then) it would allow that flexibility. The project the way it played out doesn’t have to have that, but that would be a best-case scenario to move that as far south as possible.”
The involved parties will meet to address the easement issue.
If there is a new entrance built, the current entrance would be closed off.
The second floor of the police station would be used for evidence storage for the police department and as a storeroom by the town.
Chief Flood also inquired about a carport amenity linked to the police station — or a scaled-down version of a sallyport — to enhance prisoner transport. Mr. Gulbronson said that could be feasible, as a potential add-on.
“With the two-story version, it frees up more parking space on the side, so you would be able to have that side of the building to incorporate something like that,” he added.
There is no definite timeline on the project. Ms. Brought said it depends entirely on funding at this point.
“We want everything in place, as the police will need to temporarily use other local police departments while construction takes place. We could be looking at anywhere between one to two years is my best guess,” said Ms. Brought.
“COVID could hold this up in regard to supplies and funding resources.”
Mayor Baull said, “We’ll take the next step … getting architectural plans drawn up and take the next step forward.”