New Kitty Hawk police department design proposal deferred by town council

Published 5:14 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2023

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An item from the consent agenda was removed and thoroughly discussed by Kitty Hawk Town Council members during their monthly meeting on March 6. The item involved approval of a proposal from Dills Architects for document creation, site engineering and overseeing construction administration for the new police station at a total cost of $472,513.

The Town of Kitty Hawk purchased the former Sentara Medical facility for $4.1 million in September of 2022. Renovations and remodeling are in order to accommodate a larger police station. “I do believe if we are going to move forward with this project … we need someone to help construct design documents, oversee civil engineering and help us prepare for awarding a construction contract to a contractor,” town manager Melody Clopton voiced.

Clopton explained that RFQs (request for quotes) were sent out in an effort to receive proposals for the project. Three were submitted and an employee committee was formed to independently rate the received proposals. Dills Architects was then deemed the most qualified for the position based on their proposal and the ratings. A breakdown of the cost for the project was given to the council the day of the meeting, upon a request from councilman David Hines.

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With a large concern regarding cost, the council was not ready to give their approval at the meeting.

Hines was first to vocalize his reservations: “Being in the business, it’s hard for me to absorb this.” Stating that, as a general rule, design contracts typically come in at around 6% of the total projected job cost, Hines noted that the proposed cost was well above that average. “Until this group can talk to us in person, I think I’m spinning my wheels here with my concerns.”

The design proposal from Dills included renovation work of the existing facility, along with adding new construction, totaling 16,360 SF for a larger, more functional police station. This was based on a schematic design floor plan dated January 18, 2023.

Other members of the board shared similar apprehensions as Hines. Councilwoman Lynne McClean noted redundancies within the proposal, and while agreeing that services would need to be contracted out, was hesitant to accept all of the details of the proposal. “There is an awful lot here that I really don’t see us needing … and a lot here that we can’t do without. I’m not prepared right now.”

Within the Dills proposal, it was noted that the old surgery center and portions of the north end of the building would be demolished to make way for a lobby-style entrance for the police department, while the south end would remain reserved for medical use. Other proposed features included administrative office spaces, a training/community room, police department sections including investigation, patrol, holding and evidence, kitchen, dayrooms, fitness with lockers and showers and bunk rooms. Some additional spaces noted within the proposal included animal control hoteling with kennels and a firing range.

Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Pruitt offered the thought that there may be some confusion within the scope of work. “We’re remodeling, not building,” he said, adding, “We kind of went in with a project like this on the EMS station and it snowballed and we ended up with a $14 million building that we couldn’t afford, and ended up losing money on hiring one of these companies.” Councilwoman Charlotte Walker concurred: “I think we’re getting really close to what we couldn’t afford to begin with. I need more information, just like we all do.”

Upon the end of discussion, Pruitt motioned to defer consideration until Dills Architects could come and speak with council. With all in favor, the motion carried and Clopton was asked to request their presence at an upcoming meeting to further discussion. The item is also part of the council’s retreat agenda.

Dare County Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman Wally Overman and veterans services officer Patty O’Sullivan were invited to the podium to present information on “The Wall That Heals.”

The Wall That Heals is a 375-foot replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, honoring nearly eight million Americans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. Heading out for its 28th season, the wall will make its final stop of this year’s tour in Nags Head in November.

O’Sullivan shared that volunteers are needed to help with set-up and tear down, as well as manning the wall throughout its stay on the Outer Banks. “Hopefully you will choose to support this event wholeheartedly,” Overman said, to which Mayor Craig Garriss responded, “I think it’s safe to say you have the full support of this town council.”

The next regularly scheduled Kitty Hawk Town Council meeting will be held at town hall on April 3 at 6 p.m. For more information, go to