Dewey Beach town hall groundbreaking set for fall

New $7.2 million facility housing police, administration, paramedics out to bid this spring/early summer
January 16, 2024

With more than 60% of design work completed, Dewey Beach officials are now finalizing electric and plumbing needs of the new town hall, set to break ground in the fall.

Town Manager Bill Zolper said the interior layout of the proposed two-story facility is done. All department heads, including Sussex County paramedics, are now reviewing designs for their respective areas to determine where to place electrical outlets, he said. 

Once complete, Zolper said, specs will be submitted to architect GMB. After establishing heating/air conditioning, electric and plumbing needs, design will be 90% complete, he said.

“It’s a very basic building that will be as nice as it can be with no frills, but it will get the job done for Dewey,” Zolper said. 

The fire marshal is perusing plans, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will conduct a water conservation review to determine where water will flow, he said, and Delaware Department of Transportation will approve an entrance on Rodney Avenue.

Between the building and townhomes on Rodney Avenue will be a 10-foot area of green space, Zolper said, with a 5-foot sidewalk from Coastal Highway to Rodney. If approved by commissioners, the town may move forward with a marketing committee idea to sell memorial bricks as a fundraiser, he said.

The town has an ordinance against pile driving during the summer season, Zolper said, and piles may need to be driven into the foundation before concrete is poured. 

If the contract went out to bid April 1, he said, town officials would need 30 to 45 days to review proposals before starting work sometime in May or June. The code enforcement building on Coastal Highway would have to be demolished first, he said, and work trailers would be installed in front of town hall for those employees.

Rather than begin work during the town’s busiest season, Zolper said plans call for putting the project out to bid in mid-May so the town has time to review proposals, select a builder and order materials in time for a fall start.

Regarding finances, Zolper said GMB provided a $7.2 million estimate on the project a year ago. The town received a $3 million grant from the state, $1 million from Sussex County for the EMS station, and it has $2.3 million in reserve, he said, leaving about a $900,000 balance.

While other towns raise their residents’ property taxes to pay for new facilities, Dewey Beach does not have a property tax, Zolper said, so commissioners will decide to pay for the balance through parking or other fees. The recent elimination of free parking on Tuesday and Wednesday nights in the summer could bring in $100,000, he said.

Plans call for a budget workshop to begin after the regular commissioners meeting Friday, Jan. 19, Zolper said. After that, he said, the budget and finance committee could review any considerations presented by council and refer their final recommendations to commissioners with possible discussion in the February meeting.

Except for the main lobby and administrative offices where visitors and residents can purchase parking permits, dog licenses and the like, the first floor will comprise the police department, he said. Upon entering the building, the police department will be on the left and town administrative offices on the right.

The first floor of the police department will house three holding cells, a processing area, an evidence room and the armory, he said. The alderman court and offices will be upstairs, along with a large commissioners/multipurpose room that will be used for public meetings and employee training, he said.

A small meeting space on the second floor will allow builders and property owners to review plans with the building official, he said. The town manager’s and other administrative offices will be located behind this space, he said.

To save money, many floors will be polished concrete rather than luxury laminated wood where possible, Zolper said.

Commissioners also decided to go above FEMA and town code standards by going an extra foot above the current elevation threshold, he said. To compensate for that and stay under the 32-foot height limit, ceilings will be 8 feet, he said. A small attic will be conditioned with heat and air for servers and storage, he said.

The exterior design will have a beachy feel, like the lifesaving station, he said.

“It’s a long process, but we’re trying to be as fiscally responsible as possible with building the new town hall and police station,” he said.


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