After much discussion Jan. 18, the Buda City Council rejected all bids for the renovation of the old library located at 303 Main St. in downtown so it could be converted into a welcome center and working space for the Destination Services Department.

Destination Services Director Lysa Gonzalez outlined the current state of the department's workspace during the meeting.

“Right now staff has very limited space and very limited functionality in our current office, and so this space allows for us to have space for our growing staff and to also provide that functionality that our community is needing without having to build a new building,” Gonzalez said.

She added that the department was eyeing the old library as the Destination Services’ new location as it has much more visibility and is more central to downtown.

“This puts us right in the heart of our community and allows for easy navigation to those main tourism destinations that we have within our community,” Gonzalez added. “It also provides for accessibility for both our businesses and our staff.”

Not only would it be more central, but it also would aid in one of the main goals of the welcome center and help visitors.

The current location of Destination Services at the Stagecoach House at 880 Main St. is riddled with rodent and pest control issues as well as climate control issues, which are all mounting maintenance costs for the city, according to the presentation.

The renovation of the old library would have provided office space for Destination Services as well as shared office space for the community. It would have also served as a command center for large-scale events in the city and display historical information and artifacts.

Plans for the remodel began in June 2019 with the initial approval of $470,000 of hotel occupancy tax, or HOT funds, to be used for the project.

In November, the city issued invitations for bids on the construction and was set to award the contract to Mooring Recovery Services Inc. for $694,014. In addition, $136,975 was budgeted for non-construction expenses, and $85,032 was budgeted for other services, according to the presentation.

The grand total for the project was $916,021, with $770,000 of HOT funds ultimately allocated through the various financial year budgets as well as $163,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Concerns arose among council members as the contract for Mooring Recovery Services Inc. was the lowest, but that over time, change orders might increase the initial cost as the price of labor and materials continues to go up. In addition, with the location of the old library being so central in downtown, the council wondered whether they might save the space for something else.

“My initial thought is to... reject the bids, get some estimates of what it would take to get [the old library] in a position where Destination Services could relocate there but not have it as a full, brilliant visitor center and meeting space,” Council Member Evan Ture said. "And then press on getting answers and thoughts from other entities and parties like the [Economic Development Corporation] on what we want to do with that space."

With all bids rejected, the old library building will be utilized by Destination Services with new furniture, fixtures and equipment.