By Moses Leos III
Roughly a year after voters approved its $55 million bond, the Buda City Council got the chance to envision what a new municipal facility under the bond package should look like.
Page Architects, the design team behind the facility, completed that process as part of an open-ended survey to council on Oct. 13.
Buda Mayor Todd Ruge said enacting a vision that compiles what council and citizens want is a priority.
“One that’s important to me is that this is the citizens’ building. We need to follow through on their vision,” he said. “On council, we have ideas about things. This is the citizens’ building and I want to build what the citizens want.”
Page Architects’ forum gathered the council’s vision based on a series of questions. Those ranged from the civic attitude of Buda, to what the facility could mean to residents, what will the finished product symbolize to the community, and challenges that could arise.
Buda’s facility was spread across two bond propositions. The first, totaling $21 million of the city’s $55 million bond, will feature a new city hall, library, municipal court and community multi-purpose room. The second proposition, totaling $6.75 million, will house a police station and public safety building.
In January, the city purchased 8.6 acres of land along north Main Street near Jardine’s Foods for the new facilities.
Several council members cited the city’s “small town charm” as something they wanted to maintain when it came to the facility. They also described the community as vibrant and growing.
“The new building should reflect not the glass and steel monstrosities of Austin, but the small town warmth (of Buda),” councilmember George Haehn said.
Mayor Pro Tem Bobby Lane said the facility needs to be “citizen centric” for people to not only carry out the business of Buda, but “come together as a city.”
Councilmember Eileen Altmiller said getting the project done on time, but within budget, was important for a community that wants results “pretty soon.”
“We want to make sure this project is on time and on budget and a beautiful project and creative process,” Altmiller said. “We’ve been waiting a long time and we want those plans to come through for us.”
Ruge said he envisioned the facility as a landmark that houses “unique and beautiful, but most importantly, an efficient building.”
That extends to parking and where it will be placed. Ruge said he envisions parking to be located behind the facility. He also said that having the facility match with its surroundings was key. That includes keeping in mind the heritage trees that are located on the property.
“Other than the building’s design, trees are the second most important thing for council and citizens,” he said. “We made it clear to the architectural firm that we want to keep those trees.”
Keeping the same contractors on the project, while maintaining accountability was also important to several council members.
Council member Jose Montoya said minimizing change orders and coordination is key during the construction phase.
But Ruge agreed with Haehn on challenges the land poses, primarily natural drainage from Onion Creek that goes through the land.
Ruge said incorporating environmentally sound features, along with maintaining with the topography, are important.
But Ruge said he was confident the project could meet its deadline of 2017. He said the city is “moving forward with full force.”
“This will be the biggest construction project I will see as mayor. I want it to be on time and below budget,” he said. “We want to see these things completed. These are needed assets.”