There was an unmistakable twinkle in longtime resident and former Mayor Bobby Lane’s eyes when he looked at the aesthetics of Buda’s new municipal complex Saturday.
Months earlier during a walkthrough of the site, the view of steel girders and open space made it difficult for Lane to envision what the final product could become.
With the facility now complete, Lane, along with many other current and former city leaders and officials, couldn’t help but hide a smile that’s been roughly a decade in the making.
They all hope Buda’s new complex, paid for as part of the city’s $55 million bond initiative, can serve its residents for generations to come.
“It’s amazing to see the growth and progress in the project,” Lane said.
Buda’s new facility, a 55,000-square foot space, combines a new, state-of-the art 25,000 square foot library with multi-purpose meeting spaces, which make up 40 percent of the building. In addition, the city also gains an expansive space to house all city offices, as well as the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and emergency operations center (EOC).
Buda Mayor George Haehn said in a statement the new facility would make things “a lot easier for everyone,” as all administrative offices in Buda are within one building. He also believed it will allow the city to serve the needs of the people more efficiently.
“The biggest thing I think is we have so much meeting space here and the opportunity for citizens to be able to sit down with each other and discuss issues,” Haehn said.
Kenneth Williams, Buda city manager, said the new facility will have a “tremendous impact” on the city, and is expected to accommodate future growth over the next 20 to 30 years.
Williams said the new complex was also completed in a responsible way; tax implications projected to voters when they approved the bonds in November 2014 are lower than anticipated.
But the structure was also the result of many years of patience and persistence, which were rewarded thanks to the “steady praise from the heavens above.” Haehn said part of the challenge was debating “how much is too much” and how much the city could afford.
Williams said the city ultimately found equilibrium, which helped to bring the complex to light.
“During the groundbreaking, we spoke about the facilities of being a symbol of the commitment to current and future residents of Buda to meet their educational, cultural, safety and civic needs,” said Melinda Hodges, Buda librarian. “Now we’re ready to fulfill that commitment.”
For Jose Montoya, a former city council member and current EDC board member, completion of the facility was the fruition of much hard work, starting with trying to get voters to approve the bond, to getting it within budget.
It was also a needed improvement, especially for city staff, who were “packed like sardines” in the old city hall facility.
“It wasn’t conducive to holding meetings or having public spaces,” Montoya said. “We have a wonderful facility.”
Former City Council Member Eileen Altmiller was equally excited for the new facility, especially the library, which has been two decades in the making.
Altmiller said the library was too small by 1998, which was “kind of frightening.”
“We have been working hard for this. Some people thought libraries are not necessary anymore,” Altmiller said. “But I think they bring people together.”
Lane said the ability for the complex to be what’s best for citizens, be within budget and come forth with the completed project was a priority.
“I think we hit a home run on all three counts,” Lane said.