Millville approves preliminary design for new muni building

The Millville Town Council this week unanimously approved a preliminary design plan for the Town’s new municipal building.

In January, the council had unanimously approved a $106,942 contract for the design of a second Town municipal building, plus other services. Architectural design, permitting and soil testing will be done by George, Miles & Buhr LLC (GMB).

On April 28, the council heard a presentation from civil engineer Andrew J. Lyons Jr. of GMB about the preliminary design of a two-story addition to the current town hall that would be used by both the Town and the Delaware State Police.

Lyons said the stormwater flow on the property would stay the same, with water draining back to the tax ditch. He said that they still needed to meet with the Soil Conservation District.

“I’ve done some preliminary calculations. We qualify for the standard plan, as it is now.”

Councilman Robert Gordon asked if there would be an issue with the water behind town hall, if the Town eventually paves its parking lot.

“Talking with the Conservation District, because it’s gravel, they look at it as if it’s already paved, because they assume it will be paved at some point,” he said. “Paving it will add a little bit of stormwater. We’re looking into pervious paving, if we can get money for that, because it is an added expense. Then that would infiltrate right into the soil.”

Morgan Helfrich, a project architect, with GMB said the two buildings would be connected by a glass link.

“What we decided to do was create a link in the center between the garage addition and the existing building, basically that is vertical circulation,” she said, noting it would house an elevator and egress stairs for both sides of the building. “The reason we did that, also, as you know, this building is 4 feet above grade, and obviously our garage building is at grade, so we had an elevation change that we needed to take care of in the design.”

The new building would extend to have three garage doors, with a total of four garage bays — three for the Town and one wash bay to be used by the Delaware State Police. Additionally, the first floor would house two secure interview rooms, an IT closet, a handicapped-accessible restroom and janitor’s closet.

The upstairs would feature two bunkrooms, a kitchenette, a 31-seat classroom and two full bathrooms.

Along with second-floor access from the elevator and stairs that will be located in the link, there will also be exterior stairs.

“These two fire stairs need to be remotely located from each other, in case there is a fire and it’s blocking one of your exists,” explained Helfrich.

She noted that the exterior stairs would be built 48 inches wide between the railings.

“That’s to assist handicapped persons down the stairs, because, as you know, you can’t use an elevator in the event of a fire.”

Gordon asked if it would pay off for the Town to incorporate plumbing for a future sprinkler system into the building when it is eventually constructed.

Helfrich said that, after meeting with the Office of the State Fire Marshal earlier in the week, it was confirmed that sprinklers would not be required in the additions upstairs. She added that the second floor of the current town hall would not need sprinklers either, if the building’s capacity “zone” was changed.

“The entire design, including the existing below 10,000 square feet, doesn’t require sprinkler. We’re at 9,977. … We’ve pushed the limit as far as the limit can go,” she said. “Anytime you’re over 50 people in a space, that puts you in a sprinkler requirement zone. What the Fire Marshal has suggested we do is call this an ‘open office,’ which in the future it’s going to be. That takes your occupancy load down to 100 square feet per person, instead of 10 square feet per person. That gets you under the requirement of having sprinklers on the second floor.”

Code & Building Administrator Eric Evans asked whether, if the Town submitted a sprinkler system plan for the new building, they would then be required to have a sprinkler system installed in the current building.

“Yes,” responded Helfrich. “I’m pretty sure, but I can verify that.”

Helfrich said the new building would keep with the current town hall’s residential look, and use matching siding materials, roof pitch and asphalt shingles.

Councilman Steve Maneri asked where the Town would place its generator.

Lyons said the existing generator can sit where it is but noted that they are looking into placing a second small generator to handle the new building. The existing underground propane tank would have to be moved, and GMB is looking into digging it up and doing an aboveground tank next to the generator, in an enclosed space behind the parking lot. He noted, however, that those were just preliminary ideas.

Capt. Sean E. Moriarty of the Delaware State Police, Troop 4, said he thought the preliminary design looked great, and he thanked the Town for their partnership.

“We really appreciate the opportunity to continue our partnership here. The building is fantastic. We’re very, very grateful,” said Moriarty. “We’re looking forward to having adequate representation, if not greater representation, down here.

“I think it’s going to be a win-win, with increased state police visibility and access, but also for providing emergency care — whether it be a storm or routine patrol. We appreciate everything the Town and council have done for us. … I think this is really going to be a great endeavor.”

The council voted 5-0 to approve the preliminary design plan for the Town’s new municipal building.

“It’s been a really good win-win for us, the Town of Millville and state police,” said Mayor Gerry Hocker. “It gives state police a presence in the area without the Town of Millville having to have a police department, which is a win for the entire town and the taxpayers in the town.

“Our goal is to keep taxes low, and that’s one area where we have tried to figure out a way to have police protection in the area without having to have our own police department, and I think this has been a huge step forward.”

Hocker said the new building has been a work in progress and that it has been a privilege to work with everyone on the project.

“GMB has been absolutely fabulous. The state police has had a lot of positive input, I think, through the group effort,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting for the town of Millville and exciting for the whole entire area. That’s the main thing — it’s not just the town of Millville. This whole beach community — Ocean View, Bethany — it’s good for everybody.”

The next Millville Town Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 12, at 7 p.m. at town hall.