DSISD eyes alternative to proposed admin building

Significant changes may be underway in the conceptual plan for the Dripping Springs Town Center project approved by the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ)  Board.

On Dec. 4, the Dripping Springs Independent School District (DSISD) Superintendent Bruce Gearing said the district is developing an alternative plan for the location of its administration building. It may include converting Walnut Springs Elementary School into the district’s new administrative office.

Gearing said the district is in the middle of an evaluation of its capacity to handle the rapid growth that is projected in the area. As a result, it may shift its priority away from construction of a new administration building.

“We’d rather put money in schools than an administration building,” he said.

The district’s Long-Range Facility Planning Committee, made up of school staff, parents, administrators and community members, is leading the assessment.

The committee is expected to bring recommendations to the school board by January 2018 at the latest on whether to call for a bond election to pay for infrastructure improvements, Gearing said.

In the proposed Town Center, a new district administration building will be constructed adjacent to a new Dripping Springs library with a meeting center in the middle of the layout for shared use by the stakeholders. The land for the Town Center is currently owned and occupied by the school district.

One dramatic change will be an increase in space at the Dripping Springs Community Library from its existing size of approximately 9,200 square feet to an estimated 30,000 to 35,000 square feet.

Several other concepts in the Town Center project preliminary plan involves reconstructing the current DSISD administration building to accommodate the town center, as well as reconfiguring portions of Mercer Street and other roads adjacent to the development. The concept also calls for building a new city hall, town square and a new Hays County Pct. 4 office.

Other aspects of the plan are the development of Triangle Tract that hosts the Dripping Springs Farmers Market.

The project will be supported by funds collected from the two Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones (TIRZ #1 and #2), “with the purpose of promoting economic development and critical infrastructure,” according to city documents.

In a TIRZ, the taxes that the city and county collect from property in a designated area stays flat.  As property value rises and taxes go up, the difference between the increase in tax generated and the flat tax amount collected by the city and county is added to a fund dedicated to improvement in the designated area, said TIRZ Board Vice Chair Mim James.

According to project documents, the concept plan is expected to receive approval by the respective stakeholders in the project by Dec. 31.

For Missy Atwood, Dripping Springs Community Library District Board of Trustees president, the timing was important in the approval process of the plan.

She said the library district board  preference is to be located on Mercer Street as part of the community concept, but that it was a bit anxious about possible changes to the plan initiated by the school district that may delay it.

“It’s not something that we can kick down the road six months,” she said.

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