Millville council discusses proposed state police arrangement


In March, the Millville Town Council approved spending $650 for an initial study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) for the Town’s need for police coverage. This week, the council again discussed spending the money at a workshop in light of the recent developments with the Delaware State Police.

On April 13, Mayor Gerry Hocker announced that the town would be “entering into a mutually beneficial arrangement whereby the Delaware State Police personnel from Troop 4 will utilize space in the Millville town hall for a state police community office.”

This week, the mayor said the final arrangement with the state police is yet to be determined.

Councilwoman Joan Bennett, councilman Robert Thomas and Hocker each expressed an interest in still going ahead with the study in light of the developments with the state police. Hocker said that the IACP already has a lot of data and he said he was “very curious to give them a chance to come in and see what they recommend for the area.”

Thomas expressed that he “wasn’t sure what the town was getting for the money,” but changed his stance after the mayor explained that the IACP already has a lot of data.

“That’s how we derived at the small fee of $650. A full study would have been thousands” explained Hocker.

Bennett added that it would give the council and future council a “good baseline” of very valuable information concerning the town’s police coverage needs.

Councilman Jon Subity and councilman Robert Gordon disagreed.

“I think we should shelve it,” said Gordon. “Things with the Delaware State Police are not yet on the table. Down the road if things start to fall apart or change with them, we may have to consider it. I can’t see spending $650. I think we need to see how the state police play out.”

Subity added that he was still in opposition “particularly with the development of the Delaware State Police.”

“While I can appreciate Ms. Bennett’s comments, I don’t know that I’d agree with doing it unless there was a specific need we were trying to accommodate” Subity said.

Bennett then asked for clarification as to what the agreement with the state police was.

“Without going too far out there, it’s not my understanding that the state police will provide police services to the town. Sure, they’ll be a police presence ‘per se.’ But I want to understand [Mr. Gordon’s comments] about wait and see what they say to us. Am I getting that right?”

Gordon explained that he didn’t want the state police to come in and start to sell their services to the town.

“They are promoting themselves. I’m afraid they’ll start with one and then have 15 by 2010. That’s what I was saying.”

Hocker answered Bennett by saying that the “arrangement is yet to be determined."

“Our main objective is to keep additional troopers in this end of the county,” he said.

The town also discussed the clearing and grading of the newly acquired property adjacent to town hall for a stone driveway. They agreed to have the contractors come back with bids including specifying that all topsoil be removed. One contractor, Russell Banks, who also did work on the parking lot at town hall, put in a bid including topsoil removal and filling it to grade but the other three did not include that in their bids. The council wanted to clarify the specifications so all bids would be comparable.

Hocker reminded the council that “anything under $10,000 does not technically need bids and/or council approval,” and said he would not object to having Code and Building administrator Eric Evans follow up to make sure the contractors were all bidding on the same thing.

Old business included updates on the phase one of the streetscape project and updates on the Route 26 project. Regarding the streetscape project, they reported that Jim McCloskey of DelDOT is currently working on right-a-way issue and acquisitions on Cedar Drive.

Regarding Route 26, they reported that while the detours route project, which must be completed before starting the “mainline Route 26” project is underway, it is “seriously behind schedule due to delays by the utility companies.”

Mayor Jerry Hocker said it looks as though construction will go through Memorial Day 2012 and into the summer of 2012 before it is finished rather than be completed by Memorial Day 2012. The mainline project is currently on schedule and specific information about what it entails is available online at deldot.gov. The council reported that utility relocation for that project should begin in the fall of 2012, with roadway construction following in the Spring of 2013 in Ocean View and then moving west about four miles, with each one-mile section taking approximately one year to build.

Councilwoman Joan Bennett asked if the council couldn’t have updates on these projects every four to six weeks so they can stay on top of the progress and suggested outreach to businesses in town on the progress “might go a long way.”

At the next council meeting, the council expects to have a fee schedule for fiscal year 2012 and also at a later date will address open seats on the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Board of Adjustment.