MILLSBORO – As Millsboro grows, so grows the need for increased public safety.
The town recently purchased property that figures in plans for potential growth of the town’s police department – two small parcels adjacent to the current police headquarters. The parcels are sandwiched between Main Street and Washington Street on the eastern edge of the downtown district.
"So, the thought is that assuming it is funded in next year’s budget – which will probably be on the July agenda – a new police station or a significantly remodeled police station with an expansion will be built on those adjacent properties,” said Millsboro Town Manager Sheldon Hudson. "That is certainly big news for the town; a big step forward.”
"We are currently in the beginning planning stages with an architectural firm discussing what our needs are for a new building and what the size of it may be,” said Millsboro Police Chief Brian Calloway. "We are still in the preliminary stages of just getting the plans together.”
New construction as well as renovation/expansion are potential options.
"Ideally, it would be nice if we could build a new building on that vacant lot and still maintain operation out of here while it is going on,” said Chief Calloway.
The property has been surveyed. "We’ve conducted what we is called a feasibility study; and that is things you would like to have and then an architect takes that and puts it into square footage,” Chief Calloway said.
Millsboro Police Department has been operating at its present location since 1997. The town obtained that property that for many years was a post office.
In 1997, Millsboro had nine sworn officers. There are now 15.
"Obviously, space has become an issue,” said Mr. Hudson. "We recently increased our compliment to 15 full-time officers.
If the crystal ball holds true, Millsboro’s population is expected experience immense growth. Of note is growth in the Plantation Lakes development on the western side of town.
"If you just look at Plantation Lakes, if they build according to their target that is another 1,500 to 2,000 units. If you say two per unit that is 3,000 to 4,000 people just in Plantation Lakes,” said Mr. Hudson. "The population of Millsboro now is just over 4,000. I think it is totally realistic to say in the next eight to 10 years that we will double our population again, absent some economic aberration which is always possible, but we’re on the move.”
"I am not sure if anybody could have predicted that the town of Millsboro was going to grow at the rate this it is. We have a lot of positive growth here,” said Chief Calloway. "We have a great council and mayor and the town manager has been very supportive of this growth. The town understands that the town is growing. And to be able to do that and effectively still maintain a safe environment – which we have – we need to add and have more police officers.”
A number of things must be considered.
"This is something that is much more difficult than just building a home. You have to think of safety for your employees. You have to think of the way you detain prisoners; and you have to think about their safety,” said Chief Calloway. "But we also have to think about traffic. Our location right here on Main Street also gives us the luxury of having a roadway in front and back of us. But also, it presents a few challenges.”
"It is possible we may add onto this building or we may build new. A lot of that has to be determined. There are a lot factors with that as well; the age of this building and some of the issues that we have here when it comes to the modernization of heating and air conditioning. How much would it cost to get to that level?” said Chief Calloway. "As of our new facility comes into play we are actually going to be integrating a lot of new technology that this building just doesn’t have. At the time when we got here in 1997 there was a need for this building and this building has filled that need.”
A new facility probably rests several years in the future.
"More than likely just the planning phase of this could be up to a year,” said Chief Calloway. "I’m hoping that within no later than two years – I am hoping one – that we will start seeing some signs of this building coming together.”
A new or expanded police station figures in the commitment to the downtown area, Mr. Hudson said.
"Council really wants to lead from the front as far as having the town invest in the downtown area. I think they feel like, ‘How can we encourage property owners and even renters to make improvements to their buildings downtown if we don’t take the lead,’ Obviously that new police station will be almost at the east side of town,” said Mr. Hudson, adding the town is seeking to secure downtown development district designation and accompanying grant funding. "The hope is that will help to fuel this revitalization effort.”
News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at email@example.com