Dover city manager eyes possible permanent home for PAL

DOVER — A warehouse owned by the city of Dover at William and Pear streets near the Campus Community School currently sits filled with electrical equipment.

Donna Mitchell

However, Dover City Manager Donna Mitchell has a vision that the space might one day be used as a permanent home for Dover’s Police Athletic League — noting that although it could be years down the road, it would be a good investment for the youth of the city.

Mrs. Mitchell put the idea on the record at last week’s Dover Council Committee of the Whole meeting.

“I have put out an idea conceptually of having the PAL program operate out of the Pear Street warehouse once we get the inventory out there removed over to the electric (facility at Buttner Place),” said Mrs. Mitchell, who plans to retire as city manager at the end of October. “It would free up that facility for other uses, so I thought the PAL program would be a good use for that facility because it would make for a good gymnasium or possibly be outfitted for a rec center kind of thing for the community there that’s close by.

“(Councilman David) Anderson had asked that I put this out on official record, so it’s on the record for prosperity since I plan to retire.”

The Dover Police Athletic League has operated at numerous different sites over the years, including the Dover YMCA, Wesley College, William Henry Middle School, the Simon Circle gymnasium and other locations.

Dover’s PAL program targets students in fifth through eighth grades who are looking to take part in sports and other community activities.

In addition to building better relationships between communities and the police, the program helps provide mentoring and gives youngsters a chance to stay away from activities that could get them in trouble.

The PAL’s goal is quite simple — to develop a nurturing family atmosphere and support system for the children.

So when Mrs. Mitchell saw the possibility of a warehouse opening up when the city decommissions its power plant in eight months, she immediately thought of the PAL program.

“I wanted to put out there possibly using that space,” she said. “I did tell Mr. Anderson that the concept of moving that electrical inventory over to where the power plant is when we do the decommissioning (of it), we’ve got a couple of pole barns over there that we can relocate all the inventory to once we get all the spare parts that we won’t need anymore for the plant.

“The issue though that’s longer down the road than we initially thought would be what the city and the PAL program would have to go through with DNREC (the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control) to make sure we don’t have any environmental issues and all those types of things that need to be taken care of, so it’s not something that we could do within the next year.”

She added: “There will also be some facility improvements that need to be made to make that space fit for the PAL program. That was one of the ideas I had. In the future, there might be something else that comes up that’s a better way of doing it, but I just wanted to throw that out there.”

Mrs. Mitchell admits it is an idea that might be several years away; however, she does think that finding a permanent home for the PAL is important.

“This work can take multiple years, so I do not believe we are anywhere close to following through,” she said. “We also have a new police chief (Thomas Johnson) since I conveyed this to City Council (a couple of years ago), and he may have other thoughts on the PAL program that I’m not aware of.”

City Councilman Fred Neil, who represents the 3rd District, offered his support to Mrs. Mitchell’s idea.

“If we’re looking to the future, I think that’s a terrific idea,” Councilman Neil said, about a possible permanent home for the PAL. “Since you’re going to be around I think a little bit longer than a retiring city manager, I will support whatever happens in the future towards that (issue).”