At their regular meeting on December 10, 2012, Milford City Council voted 5 to 1 to enter an agreement with Growmark to purchase 15.571 acres of land at the corner of N.E. Front Street and N.E. Fourth Street. Located directly across from the current police station, the land will be used to construct a new facility.
David Rutt, the City Solicitor, reported that the contract includes wording regarding the due diligence required by various state agencies to conduct historical surveys and other testing of the property. He stated that if problems arise, the contract will be cancelled at no cost to the city. The City will purchase the property for $875,000, putting a $50,000 deposit on the land at the time the contract is signed. The due diligence could take up to three years, during which time the City can agree to purchase the land at the agreed upon price. At the end of the three years, the city can choose not to purchase the land, but would forfeit the $50,000 deposit.
Councilman Dirk Gleysteen expressed concerns about the contract as the construction of the police station may require a referendum to raise funds.
“At this time, I don’t foresee a referendum passing, now or in three years,” Gleysteen stated. “Have we looked at other options, such as foreclosed properties? We also don’t need 15 acres, so have we considered parceling the property and only purchasing what we absolutely need?”
Councilman Doug Morrow stated that the Police Committee had looked at many other properties throughout Milford and actually found a less expensive parcel on Airport Road.
“However, when we asked the community, we found that the public didn’t want the police station outside of the original city limits. This land is perfect as it is directly across from the current location, and the price is right,” Morrow stated. “If we don’t purchase this property, the value will increase, and in three years we may have to pay more than $1 million for the same land. The extra acreage will allow for expansion in the future as well.” Police Chief Keith Hudson agreed with Councilman Morrow.
“The current station is landlocked and there is no interim solution,” Hudson stated. “We are looking toward the future so that in 25 years we won’t be out searching for land again to expand the police station.”
The current police station does not meet all state standards, with inadequate prisoner holding cells, lack of office space and equipment that is aging. Hudson is unable to obtain some types of funding due to the inadequate facilities Milford police officers must use.
Gleysteen felt that the City should go to referendum before purchasing property, but Councilman Skip Pikus said that was not possible.
“Legislators will not even discuss grant funding with us until we know where we want to build. The Department of Agriculture will not talk to us about the next steps because we have not entered into an agreement to buy land,” Pikus explained.
The measure passed with all but Gleysteen voting in favor. When the council was polled, Councilman Garrett Grier explained that this was not a commitment to spend $875,000 today, but to lock in that price and leave the option open. Councilman Owen Brooks also explained that the citizens of the city have always supported the police department, and as the city grows there will be an increased need for officers.