Milford City Council knows where it would like to build a new police station, although funding for the $8 million facility remains unresolved.
Milford City Council voted 5-1 on Monday to finalize a purchase agreement for a 15.6-acre vacant property at the corner of Northeast Front and Fourth streets for the eventual construction of a new police station.
The final deal, however, still must be approved by the board of directors for Growmark FS, the agricultural supply company that owns the land.
If accepted, the contract would require Milford to put down a $50,000 deposit in exchange for a three-year hold on the property, during which the city would have the option to buy the land at a fixed cost of about $875,000.
Whether or not City Council eventually agrees to purchase the property will depend on whether Milford can raise the estimated $8 million needed to build a new police facility.
Council members have said they will likely seek a bond referendum before the purchase agreement expires.
Council initially gave permission for City Solicitor David Rutt to pursue the purchase agreement with Growmark in October.
But, City Councilman Dirk Gleysteen, who was not present at that meeting, raised concerns about the proposed deal before casting the lone vote of dissent Monday.
“We’re assuming that in three years we will have passed a referendum [to fund] a new police station,” he said. “We just had a big tax increase and if we’re looking for $8 million, I doubt a referendum would pass today or if we’ll have a mandate for it in the next three years.”
Gleysteen questioned whether City Council’s three-member police committee had adequately sought out other options, including foreclosed property or land about to be put up for auction. He also questioned why the police department needed 15 acres for a new station.
Councilman Douglas Morrow, who chairs the police committee, said the Growmark property was ideal, given the community’s desire to see the police station remain in the heart of town.
Morrow said the new station would only need 7 acres but the committee wants to secure the whole property to maintain a healthy distance between the station and any potential neighbors.
“This is a perfect location,” he said. I don’t want to see us not take advantage of this, because if we don’t move on it for another three or four years, the property value could go up to over $1 million,”
Councilman Skip Pikus said a suitable location also is needed before the city can seek federal grant funding or legislative approval for a referendum.
Page 2 of 2 - “The legislators won’t talk to us and the USDA won’t talk to us without a location,” he said. “We’re not agreeing to buy the land at this point. We’re just locking it in, in our favor.”
Growmark’s board of directors must still approve the purchase agreement approved by council.
“There’s been no formal meeting between us and the City of Milford,” said Norman Hamstead, the business operations manager at Growmark’s Milford office. “So far, all we’ve received is a proposal.”
Hamstead said the company’s attorneys would review the proposal and negotiate any final sticking points before forwarding the agreement on to Growmark’s board for a final decision.
“That could take upward of three to four months,” he said.