Plans are moving forward to replace the town hall and police department in Dewey Beach, where officials say they have outgrown the small building that opened in 1998.
At the Dec. 17 commissioners meeting, Town Manager Bill Zolper said the current town hall on Rodney Avenue is about 6,000 square feet, and the annex building on Coastal Highway is about 1,000 square feet.
Current facilities are overcrowded and outdated, Zolper said, and a facility comprising at least 10,000 to 12,000 square feet or more would be needed.
“We’re way under where we should be to operate,” Zolper said.
Zolper said a new facility could cost roughly $5 million, and temporary facilities would be needed after the current town hall and annex building are demolished, and while the new building is being constructed. The police department will need a secure temporary facility, he said.
Police Chief Sam Mackert said officials at Delaware State Police Troop 7 and Rehoboth Beach Police Department opened their doors so he and Zolper could tour their facilities and review the layout of their departments for ideas.
Zolper said he, Mackert and town employees determined that town hall would need 25 different spaces in a facility and the police department would need 37.
Commissioner David Jasinski suggested a public workshop to discuss proposed ideas and receive input from residents. Mayor Bill Stevens said he would like to hold a special meeting in January; the meeting was not yet scheduled by the Cape Gazette press deadline.
Town officials are now moving quickly on the issue after a nearly three-year delay in progress. In January 2019, commissioners voted unanimously to authorize the former town manager to issue an RFP for an architect to develop conceptual plans and options for a new building.
In October 2021, commissioners voted unanimously to allocate $30,000 to hire an architect. At the time, Zolper said he requested $30,000 because the former town manager had been approved to spend $25,000 on an architect in 2019 and the funds were never used.
Before the current facility opened in 1998, official business was conducted out of a beach cottage purchased by the town in 1984. Dewey Beach was incorporated in 1981.