City to assess needs for Kyle police HQ

How much Kyle is willing to spend on a new police headquarters remains up in the air as city leaders Nov. 20 refrained from identifying a maximum amount.

Even without a definite dollar figure, the Kyle City Council moved forward with a $14,000 purchase order to examine how much space its police department needs in the future.

On Nov. 20, city leaders discussed various solutions to the Kyle Police Department’s space problem. The department has steadily grown over the decade but still faces understaffing and cramped spaces, an issue city leaders have known about since 2009 when a previous study was conducted.

However, previous efforts by past city councils to provide adequate space have failed, leaving some citizens and council members concerned the $14,000 for the needs assessment will be wasted and the department’s growth will be stunted moving forward.

After nearly an hour of discussion, the council voted unanimously to approve the purchase order requesting a Police Facility Space Needs Assessment from Brinkley Sargent Wiginton Architects.

The assessment is expected to determine how much space the department currently needs and how much will be needed in the future.

Before voting, city council members heard from a resident concerned with public safety in his neighborhood and wanted to offer solutions.

“I’m pretty upset with the fact that we don’t have safety,” he said, referencing multiple incidences of accidents and traffic violations in his neighborhood. “With the amount of people here, we should.”

The resident recommended a new city hall, allowing the police station to be conjoined to the current city hall.

City council members said they intend to build onto the current police headquarters, building vertically, or to move officers elsewhere into a new space should one be built later.

But council member Shane Arabie said he wants the council to promise a specific dollar amount in bond money to back the project. Arabie said aggregating money now would ensure the project’s completion, but remained skeptical about the future of the project without it.

“To be painfully honest, you are not getting a new building or a new facility with the discussion that is happening up here,” Arabie said. “All of it is just to make the public feel good … We have not pledged a dollar to go behind it.”

The majority of the council agreed with Arabie, but without an official motion, no money was pledged at the meeting. According to Arabie, $25 million would be the ideal amount for the project and would take up what is left of the city’s bonding capacity without damaging the city’s credit.

Kyle Director of Finance, Perwez Moheet confirmed this information in a previous meeting.

The council will review the study done in 2009 and will review the new space needs assessment prior to making a decision.

Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett said he expects the cost of the future facility to be less than the previous estimate, which was just short of $18 million.

The previous design included a shooting range, a holding facility and storage buildings. Barnett said the department is prioritizing space needs and no longer seeking to maintain a jail within the department’s facilities.

The future of the department and its costs are yet to be determined, but more information should be available after council members and city staff review the incoming assessment.

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