HUNTSVILLE — Debated outside the view of the public, members of the Huntsville City Council unanimously voted to construct city hall at its current location.
Citing Section 551.071 of the Texas Government Code — consultation with legal counsel — members of the city council swiftly went into executive session to discuss an item that had been publicly debated for nearly two months. Council members were deciding whether they wanted to build the new city hall, which is being funded from a 2016 bond vote, at its current location on Avenue M, at city-owned property on FM 2821 or on property owned by the Walker County Hospital District on Avenue O.
Following a 40-minute discussion behind closed doors, Mayor Andy Brauninger stated, “I can’t imagine there being any further discussion on the item.”
During a meeting earlier this month, council members entered into a contract with the county’s hospital district, which owns the former Ella Smither Hospital on Avenue O. The $500 contract allowed city officials to go through the due-diligence process and test the site’s viability.
City leaders were initially planning to renovate the current city hall and add an additional second floor as a free-standing structure. However, after engineers reviewed the situation in detail, it was determined that the foundation of the present city hall would not support a second floor. The need for a new structure then prompted city officials to add a third floor, which will be funded through cash reserves.
But, in order to properly build the structure, city officials say that they need to acquire additional acreage for parking.
The facility is currently in the design phase, with city leaders expecting to break ground in 2022.