Discussions begin on town hall expansion in Dewey

Officials discuss additional land for Route 1 entrance
December 14, 2015

Nine months after purchasing a property on Route 1 for $875,000, Dewey Beach town officials have begun discussing what to do with it.

Dewey Beach Town Council purchased a property at 1503 and 1505 Coastal Highway in March. The property abuts town hall on Rodney Avenue and has two structures, totaling 3,500 square feet. It was previously home to Seasons Pizza and Auntie Anne's pretzels.

During a Dec. 5 meeting at the life saving station led by Town Manager Marc Appelbaum, officials discussed possibilities: demolishing both structures, demolishing only the Seasons Pizza and renting out the Auntie Anne’s structure, selling some portion of the property or purchasing more land immediately to the north to increase design possibilities.

Holding up a site plan of the current town hall property, the newly-acquired property and the Grotto Pizza property to the north that faces Read Avenue, Appelbaum told council there’s an enormous amount of space, and there are a number of possibilities.

Currently, Dewey Beach Town Hall is about 4,400 square feet – 2,400 square feet on the first floor and 2,000 square feet on the second.

Appelbaum said the town has the ability to triple or quadruple the amount of space in town hall.

Commissioner Gary Mauler said, at a minimum, the town should double the space of town hall.

Appelbaum said before anything happens with the space, two steps should be taken simultaneously – figuring out if Delaware Department of Transportation officials will allow the town to have Route 1 egress and establishing town officials want in a new space (public restrooms, meeting space, better police facilities and so on).

Mayor Diane Hanson said she is in favor of including space for town meetings. She said she likes the life saving station, but during the summer months, when lifeguards are working nine hours a day, seven days a week, the building can get crowded.

She said a new meeting space would allow for the town to install new technology, which would make meetings more pleasant.

Commissioner Dale Cooke said town employees should be asked what deficiencies there are in the current town hall, create a needs list from that discussion and then also create a wish list.

Another issue is employee parking. Appelbaum said he favors a scenario with parking on ground level with town hall facilities on second and third floors.

Appelbaum said commissioners should examine the possibility of purchasing a small strip of land from the Grotto Pizza property, which abuts both the town hall and the Route 1 properties to the north. Appelbaum said Debbie Reed, the town’s real estate agent, has talked with a representative from Grotto, and there’s been some interest shown in selling an unused strip of land between the two properties that would square off the town’s property.

He said purchasing this strip of land could mean the town has the ability to make an entrance large enough off Route 1 that would satisfy DelDOT requirements.

While the discussion has begun, no decision is expected soon.

Appelbaum said it could take another 6 to 12 months before a design is finalized. He said commissioners should decide in the next 60 to 90 days if demolishing the buildings is a step they plan to take.


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