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Plans for Milford police station put on hold

Emily Lytle * Delaware
elytle@doverpost.com
Milford Beacon

The Milford Police Department had their eyes set on a new police station. The $18.5 million project would replace the older station and give the officers more space to do their work and engage with the community. A public hearing was slated for March 23 and a referendum vote April 25.

Due to the pandemic, however, Milford Police Chief Kenneth Brown called for all plans to be put on hold around March 10.

“It’s just a bad time to be asking the public to support something like that. It just wouldn’t be fair,” Brown said. “We’ll keep doing what we’re doing and hopefully get through this.”

Despite the hold, there is a sense of urgency. The building designed for a maximum of 22 officers now has 37. With that, civilian personnel and the need for storage and equipment space has grown, Brown said.

The department recently converted a workout room into a locker room for officers and bought an A-1 Auto building across the street for more offices.

“We’re just busting at the seams in this building,” Brown said. “We have reconstructed and revamped and done everything we know we can do to make it work, and there’s just nothing left to do.”

Beyond space, the air and heating doesn’t work properly, sometimes leaving the police with a 52-degree building during the winter or terrible heat in the summer. Brown said there are environmental concerns with a constantly leaking basement, too.

It’s uncertain when the project will be considered again. “I’m sure it’s going to take some recovery time before we actually want to jump into it,” Brown said. “It could be a year until we’re tackling this again.

City Clerk Terri Hudson explained that the entire planning process will restart. That means at least another six to eight weeks of going through city council, public hearings and a special election.

“We cannot move ahead at this point until we have an actual date in place,” Hudson said. “We’re not even thinking about it.”

She said the police chief likely considered residents who may be struggling to pay their bills right now. The city has taken similar action by postponing utility rate hikes, she said.

She doesn’t expect the project to continue while the city government is still meeting online.

Back in March, the estimated increase in property taxes was $200 a year for the average homeowner. Hudson said that will likely change. How much taxes go up depends on how many properties are in the city and the borrowing rates for bonds, which she said are now “lower than what the city has ever borrowed money at.”

Milford Mayor Archie Campbell said the police station is a necessity because as the city continues to grow, so does crime.

“The population has doubled, and we still have a lot of growth to go yet with apartments and homes being built,” he said. “As soon as this pandemic starts getting out of the way, and everybody is safe, then we’ll be right back on the wagon again.”

City elections still on

Milford’s election will be Saturday, June 13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Milford Public Works building, 180 Vickers Drive, Milford.

All positions are two-year terms, including mayor and four council seats. Incumbents Arthur J. Campbell, mayor, and Katrina E. Wilson, 4th Ward council member, ran unopposed and will keep those positions.

Mike J. Boyle and Michael D. Spillane are running for the 1st Ward council seat, Andrew P. Fulton and Joseph E. Wiley are running for the 2nd Ward seat, and Brian C. Baer and Owen S. Brooks Jr. are running for the 3rd Ward seat. Boyle and Brooks are incumbents.

To register to vote or request an absentee ballot, call the city clerk’s office at 302-422-1111 ext. 1300 or 1303.