New town hall needed in Dewey Beach
After stalling several times during the tenure of multiple town managers, plans to replace the town hall and police department in Dewey Beach have picked up steam in recent months.
Town Manager Bill Zolper, now 14 months into his role, has made a public case for transforming the current facility, which opened on Rodney Avenue in 1998. Previously, official business was conducted out of a beach cottage purchased by the town in 1984, three years after its incorporation.
At nearly a quarter-century old, the current facility is overcrowded, outdated, and potentially hazardous to employees and visitors. Mold and moisture have plagued the building, which recently needed thousands of dollars in maintenance and repairs. Offices are tucked into attic eave spaces or converted meeting rooms.
Police officers must escort prisoners upstairs using an outside staircase, which presents a fall risk, and the police department has only one cell for all male, female and juvenile detainees.
Town employees and police officers deserve to work in a space that’s free of environmental issues, and provided with the tools and equipment they need to carry out business and ensure public safety.
Three architectural firms have been tasked with developing conceptual plans and options for a new building nearly twice the size of the current one.
The Rodney Avenue building is slated to be demolished, with the site used for parking, while the new facility’s main entrance would face Coastal Highway.
The town is now seeking federal funding for the estimated $5 million to $6 million project, which would include sufficient offices and storage space, as well as conference rooms for staff and community meetings.
The Cape Gazette supports construction of a modern, secure town hall and police department that reflects the professionalism of town employees who strive to make Dewey Beach a better place.
With a visible location on Coastal Highway, the new facility could serve as a public center that embodies the look and feel of this unique town set between the ocean and bay.