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Kyle debates how to handle police space needs

Tight working conditions for a growing department is pushing Kyle Police to explore its future space needs.

On Nov. 5, Kyle Police officials requested $14,000 from city leaders for a space needs assessment, which would explore how much a new facility with adequate space and functions could cost.

But the motion was ultimately tabled by the Kyle City Council as council members requested that Brinkley Sargent Wiginton Architects, the firm tabbed to conduct the proposed assessment, bring multiple plans to the table.

A similar space needs assessment proposal was approved in 2009, but that building was never constructed as citizens voted to approve a handful of road projects instead. Now, council members are concerned the department could face a similar fate.

After deliberation, however, council members asked the firm to develop multiple plans, including concepts for a newly-built facility, a concept to build onto the current facility and an option to transform an already-existing building.

Alex Villalobos, Kyle City Council member, cited several issues with the current Kyle Police facility, including a server room that’s “probably beyond the temperature requirements to operate appropriately.”

“You have data and information that is going to be lost because the building isn’t retrofitted. There’re also issues with the toilets backing up. They don’t have a place to change inside that place,” Villalobos said. “The officers are having to take DNA from a site and wash it off in their own places … They don’t have the facilities to run their best practices.”

Mayor Travis Mitchell and council member Shane Arabie said they were concerned that a plan of more than $23 million would negatively affect the city. The council hopes to spend no more than $250 per foot for the new or refurbished facility and intends to house the department within 20,000 square feet.

“I don’t want to get all the way through the planning process and then not go through with it,” Arabie said. “We don’t want to do that to the department again. The last plan was too expensive, so we absolutely have to plan for something we can pay for.”

Director of Finance Perwez Moheet said the estimated cost of the previous facility would max out the city’s current bond threshold.

“(The limit would be) about $25 million,” Moheet said in reference to the city’s bond limitations. “Most of (incoming taxes) are going to the wastewater project. We can probably bond within the existing tax rate depending on the timing. I don’t foresee the construction on the police department at least for two to three years.”

City leaders expect the item to return at the Nov. 20 meeting, when Brinkley Sargent Wiginton Architects return with an estimate for what their new plans may cost.

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