WF bond proposal could address city hall issues

Parts of the outside of city hall have broken off the surface of the building. (Source: KAUZ)
Parts of the outside of city hall have broken off the surface of the building. (Source: KAUZ)
Some of the vents inside city hall have mold on the outside like the one pictured above. (Source: KAUZ)
Some of the vents inside city hall have mold on the outside like the one pictured above. (Source: KAUZ)

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Wichita Falls City Councilors are considering a possible $131 million bond proposal, and over half of that would be for a new city complex.

The reason for the new complex is threefold: age, not enough room, and crumbling infrastructure.

"On the west side of the building on the second floor we actually vacated those offices because the floors just got too uneven," Director of Facilities, Blake Jurecek said.

Memorial Auditorium was built in 1927. The basement was later renovated to include city offices and the current council chambers sit in what used to be an old horse stable.

Now the building is in poor condition, leaving city leaders trying to decide what to do.

"It's going to be expensive," Jurecek said. "It's going to be costly. You got to consider whether we are spending the money in the right places to renovate old facilities and to continue to keep them up."

The police department was built in the 1960's for 200 employees. It now holds 300, forcing some to work off location.

The main fire station also has space issues.

"The Fire Chief mentioned that sometimes they have to purchase equipment that will fit in their facility," Jurecek said. "Not necessarily what they need to best protect the citizens."

It's why city council is considering building a $77 million dollar city complex. It puts everything in one building.

"Municipal complexes have become more popular just to help the citizens and government to be more efficient," Jurecek said.

It would also be built in the heart of downtown, addressing another need.

"That becomes part of the message we're sending out about how we feel about our community," C.E.O. of the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce, Henry Florsheim said. "The biggest piece of the bond proposal, which is the municipal complex, could be the biggest downtown project that we've had."

Florsheim said having over 400 people downtown every day would fill the restaurants, bars, and stores. City officials think it's a win-win.

"Money is going to have to be spent to address our facilities," Jurecek said. "This is a good solution."

Early projections show that it could cost over $20 million just to renovate Memorial Auditorium.

Florsheim said despite city hall being downtown, it's not within walking distance of the downtown core.

Jurecek said if that proposition was not passed and renovations were made to Memorial Auditorium, they would also have to find a place to put employees that operate the city.

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