Third location proposed for Millsboro Police Department

Millsboro town leaders and its police department are weighing options in seeking a location for a new police headquarters. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

MILLSBORO — A third property has made the list as a potential location for a new Millsboro police headquarters — tabbed a priority project by Town Council, the administration and the police department to meet needs of one of the fastest-growing municipalities in Downstate Delaware.

Town-owned property at West Railroad Avenue is under consideration as a possible site for the department, currently based in cramped quarters at its 307 Main St. location.

The West Railroad Avenue property is about 2.5 acres and is undeveloped.

“There are a few things that that piece of property had that was beneficial,” said Millsboro Police Chief Brian Calloway. “The first is it is owned by the town. It’s also on roadways that are maintained by the town, so there would be fewer regulations from the state, if you will.”

Property adjacent to the current police station also has been considered, as well as a proposal in which the police department would relocate to the Millsboro Town Center, sharing that facility on Wilson Highway with Town Hall staff.

Chief Calloway said an issue with the property next to the present station is that there are state-maintained roadways — Main Street and Washington Street — on both sides.

Discussion regarding a new police station has been ongoing since 2017. Town Council has placed a $5 million cap on the project.

The plan is in the cost analysis stages, weighing the “square footage and the needs of the department now and moving forward. You don’t want to have to revisit the police station 10 years from now,” Chief Calloway said.

“You want to be able to make this a police station that has room for growth but also be able to do this within a working budget. We are looking (at) trying to have a square footage to meet a budgetary restraint,” the chief said. “When you think of $5 million, that sounds like a lot of money. But when it gets into the structure of a police station, and any other commercial building, therein lies many challenges. I think sticker shock at times has been a part of this process.”

Millsboro Town Manager Sheldon Hudson said Town Council has prioritized the need for a new police headquarters.

“I’d like to see it done in two years tops, preferably less than that if that is doable,” said Mr. Hudson. “This has been going on for quite some time. Chief has been very patient. I know council and I would like to see the project get underway.”

Millsboro in the past several years has experienced ongoing commercial growth, particularly along the highway commercial district, as well as continuous residential growth, most notably at the Plantation Lakes community.

“With building a police station, you have to be thinking about that: What is the town of Millsboro going to look like 15 years from now, 20 years from now? The hope is to have a building that would accommodate anywhere from 25 to 30 police officers if needed,” said Chief Calloway. “We’ve had hundreds of meetings to determine where we’re going to be because this is a project that is bigger than all of us. My hope is this project will last certainly beyond my career and even others’.”

In the current fiscal year, the police department budget can accommodate 17 sworn members.

“However, currently, I have 14 sworn, two in the academy, and we are doing a hiring process. And I also have officers that have put in for retirement. So there are those things (we) had to be thinking about,” the chief said.

He pointed to the police department’s past and current growth.

“If you consider what this police department looked like 20 years ago or more … we had a department of about nine or 10. From what I can remember, we struggled to keep 10 police officers,” said Chief Calloway. “Then again, you had a population that was under 3,000. Now, I would say it’s safe to say Millsboro is at that tipping point, where we’re 7,000 to 8,000. So, certainly the census would be very helpful for us to be able to look at what we need for resources here.”