Commissioners review future possiblities

Facilities needs analyzed for next 20-plus-years

Gillespie County Commissioners heard a presentation from Gloria Barrera, vice president for Vanir Construction Management, Inc., about a Long Range Planning Study for the county.

Vanir is a Houston-based firm that has facilitated the long range planning process. They previously oversaw the planning and construction of the county’s new jail.

Recommendations in the study include improvements to the existing yards for each precinct, a new location for IT Facilities, Veterans’ Services and an expansion of the Agri-Life Extension Building and a new government center.

“We’ve been working on this plan since last October and this is a great effort, but it doesn’t really become a plan until Commissioners Court says ‘this is the way we want to go,’” Barrera said.

Costs for the recommendations are as follows:

• Construction of a new government center ranging from $30,793,000 to $38,297,000. This is for a courthouse and office space, three-story building with parking.

• Renovating the existing 1939 courthouse which would cost $4,130,000.

• A new Agri-Life, IT facilities building costing between $2,438,000 and $2,961,000.

• Updating the yard for Precincts (Pct.) 1, 3 and 4, costing between $581,000 and $749,000.

• Updating the Pct. 2 yard costing between $375,000 and $482,000.

The study planned for moderate to high growth of the county’s population, between a 20 to 52 percent increase.

“We’re looking 20 years down the road. We don’t want to build something and then outgrow it in five years,” Barrera said.

County employees should grow to reflect the county’s growth, Barrera said, and this includes adding two Justice of the Peace (JP’s) and constables. 

Barrera also said the jail will have sufficient space for some time.

“We don’t believe the jail will exceed its functional capacity until at least 2031,” Barrera said.

A timeline for the plan could happen soon.

“The biggest question is: is this something you want to consider at this time,” Barrera said. “There’s a timeline and we have time now: the county could go for a bond election in November 2018.”

Commissioners said the study doesn’t just show the wants of the county, but also the needs.

“I think the intent was we need a comprehensive strategic plan for the county so the public knows what our needs are and how we can be a quality county government and how we’re going and how it  affects all of us,” Gillespie County Judge Mark Stroeher said. “This is a working document and I think we’re getting to the point where it’s going to be a good thing for the public. We’re not necessarily approving the plan, but just a direction and concept of what they’ve got here.”

Commissioners said they will have more public participation, as they move forward with the study.

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