Milford City Council is pursuing a deal to purchase a 14-acre property off Northeast Front Street for the eventual construction of a new police station.

Milford City Council is pursuing a deal to purchase a 14-acre property off Northeast Front Street for the eventual construction of a new police station.

Six council members voted unanimously Monday to put down a $50,000 deposit and submit a purchase agreement to Growmark FS, the retail agricultural supply company that owns the vacant property located across the street from the existing police station.

“There are currently no plans to move ahead with construction, because we first have to get funding in the form of a referendum,” said City Councilman Doug Morrow, who chairs council’s police committee. “But this is an important first step that we need to take in order to get a new home for our police department.”

Milford Police Chief Keith Hudson said a new station for his  30 sworn officers and additional civilian personnel is long overdue.

“The current station was built in 1979 when we only had 12 officers, although it has the capacity for 24,” he said. “The lack of space is really bad right now. We have two, and in some cases, three officers stacked in offices meant for one. There is no storage space, whatsoever.”

Hudson said he’s glad city council is moving to acquire property for a new facility – one he hopes to see completed in the next three years.

“I think they know the predicament we’re in,” he said. “Acquiring land should also help us find grant funding for the project. Before we were going to the [U.S. Department of Agriculture] in search of funding, but of course they wanted to see the property, which we didn’t have.”

Town officials have indicated that construction of a new police station could cost as much as $8 million.

Members of the council’s police committee introduced a measure last month that sought to provide a portion of that funding through a 0.5-percent impact fee on the cost of new construction.

However, that proposal was defeated in a 4-3 vote with several council members citing the potentially negative effects a new impact fee could have on economic development.

City officials said Monday that council could seek a bond referendum to fund the construction project sometime in the next year.

Although Growmark’s final asking price for the property at the corner of Fourth and Northeast Front streets has not been made public due to ongoing negotiations, City Solicitor David Rutt said the land deal would be contingent on the property clearing environmental and archeological testing by the state.

The deal also is expected to be contingent on the city acquiring funding for the police station’s construction in the next three years.

Morrow said he believes the Growmark property is the best option available to the city.

“First of all, it’s downtown where the citizens of Milford would like to keep their police department,” he said. “It’s practically the only available location left in downtown that’s on high ground and hasn’t been developed.”

Norman Hamstead, the business operations manager at Growmark’s Milford office, said former farmstead was purchased by the Milford Fertilizer Company sometime around the 1940s. Growmark acquired the land when it purchased the fertilizer company in 2002.

“It’s not really on the market, but when the city called us to inquire about it, we listened,” he said. “If we have the opportunity to help the city acquire property for a new police station, we think that’s a positive thing.”

Growmark officials said the company’s board of directors would make the ultimate decision on whether to approve the town’s proposed purchase agreement.