Task force refines plans for Rehoboth City Hall

Third floor meeting room ruled out
The Rehoboth Beach City Hall Master Plan Task Force has generally agreed that a new $15 million complex should be a 2.5 story building. SOURCE FILE
October 24, 2013

A Rehoboth Beach task force is leaning towards a two-story building with an attic-style space for a new, $15 million City Hall.

The Rehoboth City Hall Master Plan Task Force prefers a two-story building in which city administration, a 911 center and police would be on the first floor, while building and licensing, alderman’s court, the commissioners’ meeting room and police offices would be on the second floor.

Mayor Sam Cooper said an additional floor, which would not add to the height of the building, could provide space for police training and other functions. Architect Mike Wigley of Davis, Bowen and Friedel described the design as 2.5 stories; the half story would be attic space large enough for the proposed uses. No official vote on the 2.5-story plan was taken at the task force's Oct. 7 meeting.

Wigley of Davis, Bowen and Friedel also presented designs for a two-story building without the attic and a three-story building.

Wigley's full three-story building would have put the commissioners’ room on the third floor. However, Commissioner Bill Sargent said he opposed a third floor commissioners’ room because it would mean heavy elevator use and difficult access.

“The commissioner room should be an extremely open, easy access place for the community,” he said.

As for an additional, undefined top floor, Sargent said, “Today, we can’t conceive of why we need it. Just by doing simple little things that are not too expensive, we allow ourselves a lot more flexibility in the long run.”

Wigley also suggested demolishing half the administration building, keeping the police station intact until a new station is built. The task force has been enthusiastic about this plan because it would keep the police from having to move twice, as was previously proposed. The original plan was to build the police station in the open space in front of City Hall, then demolishing the current building.

Sargent, who originally favored a standalone police station, said the new demolition proposal would help save the project money. Preliminary cost estimates for the complex, with all departments in one building, are $15 million.

Still, Sargent, who had proposed a standalone police station, said, “We’re on track to get an attractive, appropriate facility.”

Cooper, chairman of the task force, said he was pleased with the process.

“It shows we have a lot of work to do and a lot of options on the table,” he said.

Commissioner Stan Mills said, “The designers are doing a great job presenting options for the building size and floor plan layouts to garner feedback.  It is a slow process but we are trying to be thorough by analyzing different alternatives; I believe we are moving forward several steps each month.”

The task force plans to meet again, Monday, Nov. 4, when Cooper said they would further refine the plans Wigley presented Oct. 7.