South Bethany looks at police building, streetlights, sea level

Date Published: 
December 30, 2016

Numbers are settling into place as South Bethany plans its police station expansion, which has a tentative price tag of $232,450 (including an $18,000 contingency fund). The money is available, spread over the next two budget cycles, said Mayor Pat Voveris on Dec. 9.

The price estimate has already increased with inflation and with an extra 39-by-2 square feet, on top of the 936 square-foot addition.

By this spring, the design should be completed and put out to bid. Construction could run from September to the end of 2017.

Police Chief Troy Crowson described a variety of issues that need to be addressed, simply to avoid liability, like separating detainees from evidence, civilians, police officers and each other.

Pat Ryan (Ryan Architecture, LLC) created a preliminary floor plan and construction cost update. The new rooms would house a break room, processing room, conference room and private office. More importantly, it would eliminate the current “multipurpose room” that ineffectively serves as an armory/kitchen/locker room.

Councilmember Sue Callaway said she completely supports the upgrade, although she was previously on the fence.

“It sounds like a lot of money, but in doing renovations ... it’s going to cost a lot more when you do it later,” Callaway said. “I’m of the mindset that we move forward with the two feet now.”

The councilmembers generally approved of the $218,900 base price, plus $12,800 for two-foot expansion and $750 for a detainee bathroom. They’ll seek grants for future safety enhancements.

They voted to begin with $29,000 for engineering by Ryan Architecture and a $3,500 soil boring test.

The Budget & Finance Committee reported that ongoing costs, like operations, depreciation and insurance would cost about $5,500.

A few residents questioned the size of these new rooms, but Ryan reminded them that the drawings weren’t to scale, and SBPD would benefit from a little extra room to accommodate future technology, or just to be able to fit all their staff and guests in the conference room.

In 2016, Crowson said 82 people have already been processed for various reasons, like warrants, drugs, overdue fines. In 2015, that number was 29.

“Whether it’s one person, 82 people or 100 people, you’re assuming certain risks or liability for the way we have our current building,” Crowson said.

They’re operating as best they can, but Crowson suggested this is a lawsuit waiting to happen. And there’s not enough room to simply reconfigure the existing space. An addition is necessary.

He and Ryan answered other questions, reminding the public that this information is online.

As resident and supporter Dennis Roberts said, “Liability is going to cost a whole hell of a lot more than $152,000.”

Details and presentations are online at www.southbethany.org/pdf_pdbuilding.php.

In other South Bethany news:

It’s time to continue discussing flooding and sea level rise, the Planning Commission encouraged. Chairman Dick Oliver explained why Town Council should commission Phase 2 of the Adaptation Study, costing around $35,000.

Professional data could help the Town plan future investments, like street maintenance. Importantly, the report would include “trigger points” telling the Town when to begin mitigation actions to protect homes and infrastructure. Plus, South Bethany could qualify for grants for mitigation projects, plus help the region achieve a longer-term sea level rise strategy.

Immediately, the Planning Commission also encouraged Town Council to start spending the money previously budgeted to install backflow valves at storm drains leading to the canals; to consider allowing higher bulk heads; and to delay major street modifications pending the results of the Phase 2 study.

Resilience planning started around 2011, with extra impetus from Hurricane Sandy flooding and wave action. Some mitigation efforts were already written into the town’s 2016 Comprehensive Plan. The primary emphasis is sea level rise over the next 50 years, most likely 1 to 1.7 feet, Oliver said.

• With a majority of public support, Canal Drive will get more street lights. In autumn, a lighting survey was sent to 116 properties in the Canal Drive area. Of the 81 responses received, 58 were “For lights,” and 23 were “Against lights.”

“I think it’s pretty clear the majority of the homeowners that responded are in favor of more lighting,” Callaway said.

There will be shields and other measures to prevent light pollution into nearby houses.

• With new rules coming out for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones, Town Council passed a resolution to acknowledge the new state and federal laws. Delaware General Assembly expressly preempted municipalities from adopting ordinances to restrict or regulate drone usage.

• South Bethany Town Council’s next regular meeting is Friday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m.