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Flower Mound moving forward on new town hall

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Flower Mound will move forward in pursuing a new town hall after town council members reviewed a preliminary proposal for a two-story town hall with an estimated 42,000 to 43,000 square feet.

The preliminary concept from Oxley Williams Tharp Architects, which designed the senior center currently under construction on Windsor, depicts a clock tower lobby fronting the two-story building designed to double the size of the existing council chambers, add an additional 4,000 square feet to the current footprint used by town facilities and allow another 4,000 feet for growth.

The proposal also featured water features including a pond and open space as well as additional parking.

Centered at the corner of FM 1171 and Morriss Road where the existing senior center now sits, the facility could sit next to the existing town hall to allow for easy transition, Oxley said.

Cost was projected at $250 to $300 per square foot in the preliminary proposal.

“We’ve been talking about this for six months,” Mayor Tom Hayden said to fellow council members. “Is this something we really want to pursue?”

Council members Steve Dixon, Jean Levenick, Bryan Webb and Michael Walker all individually suggested time was of the essence in pursuing a new town hall though each suggested different elements that should be considered in moving forward.

Dixon asked that skylights and other LEED certification elements be included in the town hall. Walker suggested the look and feel of the town hall should match what is expected in the community.

Debra Wallace, assistant town manager, suggested the total cost of a similar sized town hall would be closer to about $15 million including all components of design, construction and funding.

The project could be paid for through use of the Tax Increment Revinvestment Zone, which exists until 2025. Mayor Hayden suggested that if funds were not used for other projects, officials could pay a significant portion of the town hall through the TIRZ funds.

In addition, with the completion of The River Walk and Lakeside DFW, TIRZ funds are expected to increase more rapidly than the current accrual of $2.2 million per year.

The project, if approved, would take at least 2.5 to 3 years to complete from the initial design to construction completion, officials said.

Hayden said there are only 11 years left of the TIRZ, which if it is used as a debt instrument, would need to be done soon. “If it’s something we’re going to do, we need to get on with it,” he said.

“Time is of the essence because of the shared funding with TIRZ,” Walker concurred. “We need to accelerate the process.”

The current economy would make it timely to pursue funding for building a town hall, Dixon said.

“Because of the interest rate environment we’re in, we should probably be moving sooner than later,” he said.

The town’s budget currently allots $300,000 per year to lease space at The Atrium for additional space for town business.

Hayden also asked Oxley if it would be possible to consider creating a council chamber that could double as use for the performing arts.

“The amount of money to spend for a performing arts center is going to be a challenge,” Hayden said. “We could perhaps kill two birds with one stone.”

Oxley said a combination of thought and ingenuity would be needed but he said it was possible.

Several officials stressed the need to plan a town hall that would last longer than 20 years.

“We need to get away from building a new town hall every 20 years,” Hayden said. “We need to look at something for 50 years that we can add on to.”

The town’s next step would be to talk with the TIRZ board, which is slated to meet on Nov. 17.

In other business, council members:

*Voted 4-0 to discontinue contractual services with lobbyist Solutions for Local Control LLC after signing a two-year contact on Jun 1, 2013. Town officials told council members they were able to use existing town staff as well as work with other neighboring entities to address any legislative issues which night impact Flower Mound.

*Voted 3-0 to accept a report on closing access to River Hill Drive from Creek View Drive to through traffic. Town officials updated the council on concerns by neighbors regarding the traffic. A 92 residents in the River Oaks Estates and Wichita Creek Estates subdivisions submitted signatures opposing initial suggestions by other residents to close off access to River Hill Drive from Creek View Drive to through traffic. Several homeowners originally sought closure, citing traffic posing a danger to residents due to speed and unwanted through traffic. Those opposing the call to close an entryway cited concerns that the neighborhood would be limited to only one entrance, which could impede traffic flow within the neighborhood and potentially cause issues should the entrance be blocked for some reason. Town council member Bryan Webb offered kudos to the staff for the number of hours spent in reviewing the issue and indicated fire officials’ concerns about closing the road.

*Approved 4-0 a request to allow a deviation from parking regulations for a proposed professional office building west of Yucca Drive and south of Cross Timbers Road. The proposed parking is in excess of regulations but is expected to handle parking needs for the new single-story building as well as two existing buildings – all of which are under the same ownership, according to town documents.  The owner is asking town officials to allow him to build a 50-space parking area before tearing down existing parking for the two building now located at the site. The parking study shows the combined parking will be less than the allowable 20 percent deviation in the town ordinance.

*Voted 4-0 to approve a professional services agreement with MHS Planning and Design to provide professional and engineering services for phase one of the Twin Coves Park Improvement project. The contract amount is $274,000. Twin Coves Park on Grapevine Lake has fallen into disrepair, town officials noted. The move is to further refine the outline in the feasibility study completed last year.  A concept plan submitted in August shows the additional amenities town officials are planning including cabin pavilions, RV pavilions, a fishing pier, a small craft launch, a playground, stone overlook area and a bridge and trails. Town officials have submitted an application for a grant, which is a 50 percent matching grant in the amount of $400,000 to pay for the renovations.

*Approved 4-0 a resolution authorizing the town attorney to bring a condemnation action for the purpose of obtaining fee simple title to approximately 0.221 acres of property located at 6404 Stonecrest Road in Flower Mound as right-of-way necessary for construction and maintenance of roadway improvements.

*Heard a report about the feasibility of using reuse water – treated water coming out of the wastewater plant that is compatible with such public use as irrigation, water features or for industrial processes. It is not used for human consumption or in residential areas. Common uses are for watering golf courses, athletic fields and parks. The town currently has 41 million gallons per day (mgd) of potable water under contract with 11 mgd from Dallas Water Utilities and 30 mgd from the Upper Trinity River Water District. The town needs about 20 million gallons of water per day. Area cities using re-use water include Dallas, Fort Worth, Euless, Frisco and the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport as well as San Antonio. Town may identify an area for a pump station site off Dunam Road (CHECK) or nearby with it being phased in with ongoing development. Currently pay $388,110 per a million gallons of water to Upper Trinity River Water District. The rate of annual increase is expected to continue, town officials said, adding it has increased 215 percent since 2003. The $388,110 per year cost could fund the annual debt service on a 20-year bond at 3 percent for a $5.8 million project. A public hearing on the issue is likely to be scheduled by the end of the year or early 2015 at the latest.

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