Georgetown officials consider permanent structure in downtown

On Aug. 12, Georgetown City Council approved a 10-year interlocal lease agreement with Williamson County for about 1.3 acres of land at the intersection of Eighth and Martin Luther King streets to build a public parking lot.

The city will lease the property for $10 a year and will demolish two buildings located on the property to make space for additional parking. The city will also add landscaping, irrigation and adjacent sidewalk connections and will be responsible for maintenance, repair and utility costs, according to the agreement.

The project is estimated to cost $350,000 for construction and engineering and has been included in the citys budget. Ongoing maintenance costs are estimated to be $1,200 annually.

The area that we own, basically half that block would become a parking lot, Commissioner Valerie Covey said. The city of Georgetown would improve the property. They would put a parking lot there, take down the old buildings and, by their rules, the landscaping and all of that goes with it because it is within the downtown district.

The city is working with KPA Engineers to develop a design and has not yet set a construction date. However, the project is expected to be complete in spring 2015.

After the initial introduction of the agreement to Commissioners Court on June 24, concerns lingered about the duration of the agreement, which had originally been set up for automatic renewal.

When you have a term that ends you can say we have a term that ends, and were not going to renew it, Commissioner Lisa Birkman said. I just dont want [the city] to have the perception that they have a lifetime lease on this because thats whats going to happen if we have a continuous contract.

Williamson County initially purchased the land to expand its jail facility at some point in the future with talks of a potential coroners office or crime lab to be built on the property.

On Aug. 5 commissioners agreed to remove the option for automatic renewal on the contract and made modifications to note the contract could be extended with action by both the city and county.

Its a temporary thing that will help Georgetown, yes, but it will also help Williamson County because it will [offer] parking, Covey said. It will improve our property for one thing, but it will also take out those buildings that need to be gone, and where that dirt is, that will all be a parking lot.

The agreement will also allow the county to take back the property at any point during the 10 years; however, the county would also be responsible for repaying the city a prorated share of the expenses required to improve the land.

Permanent parking

The city is also weighing long-term options to add parking in downtown.

Were working on a request for qualifications from a design firm to come in and do a parking assessment for our downtown area and look at city-owned lots and say if a parking lot is feasible and [find] the best location, said Jackson Daly, executive assistant to the assistant city manager.

According to the request for a qualification, a firm could be selected Oct. 15.

I think some people have thought the lot at Main and Ninth [streets] would be an option or Sixth [Street] and Austin [Avenue], but were going to have an architecture firm determine where the best location would be, he said.

The firm will be required to design a parking lot or structure in accordance with the historic guidelines and Downtown Master Plan, Daly said.