West Lake Hills City Council holds second public hearing on new municipal facility project

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Architecture firm Brinkley Sargent Wiginton unveiled the site concept plans for West Lake Hill’s potential new city hall and police building during a Aug. 15 special meeting.

Funding for the $10 million project would come from the possible May 2020 bond election. Also included in the bond package are various road and drainage repairs throughout the city.

The current municipal buildings have experienced a variety of issues, such as flooding, a lack of storage, building code violations, accessibility issues and safety issues. Neither building is equipped with a proper sprinkler or security system.

“These two buildings don’t do justice to keeping our residents safe,” said Mayor Anthony.

City Council conducted a full assessment of the facilities in 2016 and Anthony called the results “very bleak.” The police department, the oldest building was in the worst shape in terms of structural integrity and building codes.

Brinkley Sargent Wiginton was hired last fall to design the concept site plans for a new building that would house both city hall and the police department.

According to Anthony, Council explored the option of conducting renovations on the current building, but due to budget and code issues, ultimately decided to start from scratch.

“Trying to remodel the current building would have been like painting a pig with lipstick,” Anthony said.

The new facility is scheduled to be constructed on the current property at 911 Westlake Drive, West Lake Hills.

Previously, Council also considered constructing the facilities at a new location, possibly the site of St. John Newman’s Church on 5455 Bee Caves Road. According to Anthony, that option was met with resistance from the community.

Several site options were explored, a majority of which would not suit the needs of the city. According to Anthony, the largest issue was a lack of interested property owners willing to sell.

“Long story short, this site is really the best option we have, and it doesn’t require adding $4 or $6 million for land costs—which is conservative,” said Anthony.

Concept site plans

Brinkley Sargent Wiginton presented concept plans for the new city hall and police building.

The new building would be a square-footage increase from the previous facility. The police and city hall buildings combined equal around 8,328 square feet. The new facility would consume around 13,989 square feet, a 5661 square foot increase.

According to Denny Boles, Senior Principal at Brinkley Sargent Wiginton, this is due to the spatial needs of meeting accessibility and building codes.

Along with designs for meeting energy and building codes, the new site plans feature an outdoor patio area for both city staff and residents. The building materials used will be mostly stone and steel, as opposed to wood, which is costly to maintain according to Brinkley Sargent Wiginton.

Brinkley Sargent Wiginton designed the concept plans according to the budget with average-grade commercial materials that are made to last.

In order to reduce any skepticism within the community, council member Brian Plunkett described the materials as being cost-effective and durable as opposed to lavish.

“We’re taking indoor space and making it feel bigger,” said Denny Boles.

Council member Beth South described the building design as community friendly, adding that the city hall facility could potentially be used for other community members outside of the city staff.

Mayor Anthony suggested that a new municipal facility could help the city attract and maintain talented staff.

“Our staff does not live in West Lake Hills—they can’t afford it—so they’re driving an hour to work, and obtaining quality staff isn’t easy these days,” said Anthony, adding that providing a pleasant place for both the staff and the community is important.

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