Millsboro council approves design for new town hall
Following months of discussion and special meetings, the Millsboro Town Council has unanimously approved a new, two-story town hall, designed with a barn feel and featuring the symbolic mill wheel outside.
It will be built at what town officials are calling The Gateway — downtown, beside the existing Millsboro Police Department at 307 Main Street. That building will be razed, giving visitors to the new site about 50 parking spaces.
The police department will move into the existing town hall building, at 322 Wilson Highway, after renovations.
It’s too soon to say when ground will be broken, Town Manager Sheldon Hudson said, adding that he is pleased about the major revitalization coming to downtown Millsboro, also slated to get new sidewalks.
“It will spur a lot of private investments. I am more excited about that than about getting a new town hall,” Hudson said.
When they met for a special session on Thursday, Nov. 14, the town council — with Councilmen Brad Cordrey and Ron O’Neal absent — 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.
Additional offices in the design for future staff that will be hired as the town grows aren’t yet needed, so aren’t being included in the current plan.
“Upstairs, they kind of reoriented a couple bathrooms and a storage closet, switching an office and conference room. They also added what could be an exercise room, and downstairs they added a bathroom. These were minor tweaks,” Hudson said.
At the next special meeting, which hasn’t yet been scheduled, council members will focus on the exterior.
“The mayor and I are fans of brick. The idea is to tie into the existing architecture in that area,” Hudson said.
Council members also discussed moving the police department to Wilson Highway and why converting existing town hall for police “makes more sense from a financial perspective,” 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.
Millsboro residents who attended the special session applauded the town council for decisions made.
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, 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.
Freddy Bada of Moonlight Architecture in Lewes, who is designing the new town hall, estimated the 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